Challenging What We “Know” about Disability: Phamaly Theatre and the DisAbility Project


  • Jason B. Dorwart Oberlin College



Disability, Theater, Phamaly, DisAbility Project, Brecht, Boal, alienation, theater of the oppressed


Phamaly and the DisAbility Project are theater companies comprising disabled performers with different missions and purposes. Phamaly produces standard Broadway fare (or previously-existing material) with an all disabled cast. The DisAbility Project writes and produces new material based upon the experience of its actors, creating and touring original material in order to educate others about the culture of disability. Phamaly and the DisAbility Project take different approaches to performance and inclusion. Phamaly conforms to a Brechtian model of performance, while the DisAbility Project enacts Augusto Boal's theories of the theater of the oppressed. Both companies enact audience alienation to compel reconsideration of the capabilities of the disabled body.

Author Biography

Jason B. Dorwart, Oberlin College

Jason Dorwart is Visiting Assistant Professor of Theater at Oberlin College. His PhD is from the University of California, San Diego and his dissertation “The Incorporeal Corpse: Disability, Liminality, Performance” received the Chancellor’s Dissertation Medal. He is also a stand-up comedian and was a recurring company member of the Nebraska Shakespeare Festival and Phamaly Theatre Co. His work has previously appeared in TheatreForum“ of which he has recently been appointed Lead Editor. Jason’s chapter “Sticking it out When It Feels Impossible: One Actress’s Story” appears in Focal Press’s Acting for the Stage“. “Jason’s assistant directing credits include A Play on Two Chairs“ (University of Colorado), Narnia“ (CenterStage), and As You Like It“ (Nebraska Shakespeare Festival). He also holds a BFA in Theatre from Creighton University, an MA in Theatre from the University of Colorado, and a JD from the University of Denver.




How to Cite

Dorwart, Jason B. “Challenging What We ‘Know’ about Disability: Phamaly Theatre and the DisAbility Project”. Current Objectives of Postgraduate American Studies, vol. 18, no. 2, Feb. 2018, doi:10.5283/copas.287.