University of Colorado
The 19 Percent: Disability and Actor Training in Higher Education.
Degree: PhD, Theatre & Dance, 2013, University of Colorado
The purpose of this dissertation is to study training methods for students with disabilities in college acting courses. Although more than 19% of Americans live with some form of documented disability, this is a minority that is virtually non-existent on stage and screen. Able-bodied actors play nearly all of the available roles, a practice that some consider a modern form of minstrelsy. As written, the few characters seen often reflect outdated disability models, perpetuating stereotypes that can be reductive and harmful. There is a troublesome lack of authenticity in writing and casting. One of the many reasons for this lack of visibility may be related to a disproportionately low number of trained actors with disabilities in the professional market. This research addresses the barriers that students with disabilities face when they seek actor training in higher education.
An extensive survey of existing literature addresses primary and secondary questions. A series of interviews reveals many positive practices that can contribute to a more welcoming and inclusive actor training program. Well-known instructors of acting, voice, and movement share wisdom earned from decades of experience. Actors with disabilities that have worked professionally and completed an actor training program provide valuable insight by sharing class experiences and personal challenges, information which may prove useful for future instructors and students. These interviews gather some valuable perspectives on a largely unexplored topic.
Some strategies that have been uncovered include ways to adapt popular acting, voice, speech, and movement pedagogies for the greatest variety of students, ways to effectively communicate with college students with disabilities, and responsible strategies for portraying disability identity during in class scene work. Some of these findings reflect the principles of Universal Design for Learning, which can be useful in practice-‐based theatre courses.
Advisors/Committee Members: Oliver Gerland, Beth Osnes, Cecilia J. Pang, Beth McGee, Tamara Meneghini.
Subjects/Keywords: Actor Training; Disability; Performance; Universal Design for Learning; Voice; Disability and Equity in Education; Performance Studies; Theatre and Performance Studies
to Zotero / EndNote / Reference
APA (6th Edition):
McNish, D. (2013). The 19 Percent: Disability and Actor Training in Higher Education. (Doctoral Dissertation). University of Colorado. Retrieved from https://scholar.colorado.edu/thtr_gradetds/26
Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):
McNish, Deric. “The 19 Percent: Disability and Actor Training in Higher Education.” 2013. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Colorado. Accessed August 26, 2019.
MLA Handbook (7th Edition):
McNish, Deric. “The 19 Percent: Disability and Actor Training in Higher Education.” 2013. Web. 26 Aug 2019.
McNish D. The 19 Percent: Disability and Actor Training in Higher Education. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. University of Colorado; 2013. [cited 2019 Aug 26].
Available from: https://scholar.colorado.edu/thtr_gradetds/26.
Council of Science Editors:
McNish D. The 19 Percent: Disability and Actor Training in Higher Education. [Doctoral Dissertation]. University of Colorado; 2013. Available from: https://scholar.colorado.edu/thtr_gradetds/26