An exploration of disability in our culture
These three hilarious, heartbreaking, heartwarming, totally true tales take three very different perspectives on disability;
• Being raised in the disability culture of a Deaf family, (What Does the Sun Sound Like)
• Being a caregiver to someone with a catastrophic illness (Aiming For Sainthood)
• Her personal journey with disability through depression and mental illness (A Little Bit Not Normal).
All of these solo pieces are told through both sign language, voice and Deaf Voice and incorporates both Deaf & hearing storytelling/theatrical techniques which challenges audiences share a world beyond their experiences. These experiences allows a view of a culture and enthnocentrism from a unique perspective.
The questions about how we function inside and outside of our bodies are very interesting to me. Our physical selves carry us through the world and while they are a significant part of who we are they are not the totality. We are part of a culture that values perfection as a norm and living outside of that norm is part of a larger conversation that I want to have with audiences.
Arlene inhabits a multitude of characters in each play including her Deaf parents, a sighing sister, old boyfriends, cranky Sister Mary Concepta, gay neighbors, fairy godmother doctors, kids from the popular clique, difficult healthcare providers, her saint-like husband, Jewish deli owners and a visitor who from the hereafter.
Arlene’s solo shows have played to sold out houses and standing ovations throughout the country and internationally. Her plays have toured across the country and internationally at performing arts centers, colleges and schools, as well as conferences. Often these performances are paired with a teaching/workshop/ educational component or a platform/motivational speech. With a Bachelors degree in Education, an MA in Counseling and a Ph.D. in curriculum design she employs a multi modal technique to the work that she does.
“As an educator, writer and storyteller, I believe that we all have a story. Our stories connect us to who we are, where we come from and who we can become.Most importantly, I believe our stories connect us with each other and it is in that connection we discover that that we all live the same lives in many different ways. These stories are about love and forgiveness, challenge and fight, judgement and tolerance and it is from a place of privilege and honor that I tell these stories.”