Title

Development of Community in an Inclusive Performance Project

Start Time

29-10-2005 8:50 AM

End Time

29-10-2005 10:30 AM

Abstract

An occupational perspective on the concept of participation, as used in the context of disability, encompasses a social world where individuals of varying abilities are able not only to meet their own needs, but also to share common interests and work toward shared goals. A theater project involving individuals with and without disabilities, some with professional ties to disability organizations, some with theater and dance experience, and others with no performance experience, developed out of an arts program at a state TASH conference. The products of this project were to be a co-constructed public performance and a documentary videotape of the process of developing the performance. I was asked to join the project as a note-taker and potential researcher. This paper discusses group development over time to become an inclusive community. Observation of 6 months of rehearsals and a public performance, interviews of participants, and documentary videos were used as data for the study.

Findings include a description of the process of community development in this context. During early weekly rehearsals, performers struggled with finding their own comfort levels with movement and touch. As individuals became more at ease with these factors, a sense of community developed. Evidence of ease with the process was seen in the humor, questioning, and challenging that took place more frequently over time. The inclusion of individuals with movement and communication impairments forced other participants to move and listen in new ways. Community was evidenced in the conversations and statements of participants, in the manner in which individuals responded to each other’s movements, and in the way that they assisted each other. While there was consensus among participants that the project was personally transformative, individuals maintained separate concerns regarding their hoped-for outcomes and future goals. The analysis examines how the shared occupation of producing a performance was critical to the development of an inclusive community that allowed for individual perspectives. Discussion focuses on how concepts of participation and community are related, and the critical role of shared occupation in bringing about community.

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Oct 29th, 8:50 AM Oct 29th, 10:30 AM

Development of Community in an Inclusive Performance Project

An occupational perspective on the concept of participation, as used in the context of disability, encompasses a social world where individuals of varying abilities are able not only to meet their own needs, but also to share common interests and work toward shared goals. A theater project involving individuals with and without disabilities, some with professional ties to disability organizations, some with theater and dance experience, and others with no performance experience, developed out of an arts program at a state TASH conference. The products of this project were to be a co-constructed public performance and a documentary videotape of the process of developing the performance. I was asked to join the project as a note-taker and potential researcher. This paper discusses group development over time to become an inclusive community. Observation of 6 months of rehearsals and a public performance, interviews of participants, and documentary videos were used as data for the study.

Findings include a description of the process of community development in this context. During early weekly rehearsals, performers struggled with finding their own comfort levels with movement and touch. As individuals became more at ease with these factors, a sense of community developed. Evidence of ease with the process was seen in the humor, questioning, and challenging that took place more frequently over time. The inclusion of individuals with movement and communication impairments forced other participants to move and listen in new ways. Community was evidenced in the conversations and statements of participants, in the manner in which individuals responded to each other’s movements, and in the way that they assisted each other. While there was consensus among participants that the project was personally transformative, individuals maintained separate concerns regarding their hoped-for outcomes and future goals. The analysis examines how the shared occupation of producing a performance was critical to the development of an inclusive community that allowed for individual perspectives. Discussion focuses on how concepts of participation and community are related, and the critical role of shared occupation in bringing about community.