On Disability Culture, Performing Arts, Social Theatre and the Practice of Beauty


This paper discusses performing arts in general and Social theatre in particular as art practices that most promote disability culture. Few significant examples of differently able performance artists are considered before analyzing the principles of Social theatre and the experience of Isole Comprese Social Theatre School (Florence, IT). From the propositions of American psychologist James Hillman, the school founded its teaching method on the practice of beauty, also defined as a poetic device serving as an antidote to contrast preconceptions, prejudices, stereotypes and stigmatizations that disable people often suffer in society.

Keywords: Social theatre; Performance; Disability; Beauty; Stigma.

Biografia do Autor

Andrea Pagnes, VestAndPage Venice International Performance Art Week

Andrea Pagnes has been working with Verena Stenke as VestAndPage since 2006. They gained

international reputation operating in performance art, filmmaking, social theatre, and art community projects. Their performance practice is contextual, conceived psycho-geographically in response to social situations, natural and historical surroundings, urban ruins. Through their live works, writings, and intensive workshops that they offer, VestAndPage explore themes such as pain sublimation, suffering, fragility, risk-taking, trust in change, union and endurance to merge from reality poetic elements to contrast the exercise of power and discrimination. Curators of the Venice International Performance Art Week since its inception, their last film Plantain received the best movie award at the Berlin Independent Film Festival (2018). Pagnes and Stenke have collaborated extensively with Isole Comprese Social Theatre Company: Pagnes as actor, performer, dramatist and set designer and together with Stenke as a co-tutor at Isole Comprese Social Theater School for social actors and operators. E-mail: pagnes@vest-and-page.de.


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Author’s note: Quotes from Italian books and texts are my English translation.