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A man playing a saxophone on stage. Painting of a hand cupped around a tiny infant. Vibrantly colored painting of geometric renderings of faces. A woman sculpting a bust out of clay. Close-up of a painting of a human eye in shades of black, red and orange. A woman performing in a play on stage. A young boy smiling at a hand puppet. An exuberant group of participants in the Actual Lives program. A young boy participating in the Arts Alive program. Painting with white and blue hair-like strokes on a background of deep turquoise. Man in a wheelchair viewing artwork in a gallery. Blind artist standing in front of his work. Group of women performing with colored scarves. Man speaking into a microphone with open captioning on a large screen behind him. Group of young students playing a musical game with the teacher.

Programs - Actual Lives Austin

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Watch the Actual Lives Austin video!

About Actual Lives Austin

Actual Lives Austin is a community-based, page-to-stage writing and performance project which establishes a voice for people with disabilities. Led by Chris Strickling, Ph.D., Actual Lives Austin begins with autobiographical writing and ends with public performance, taking the raw material of real life and serving as cultural dialogue. The award winning group, voted “Best Theatrical Activism” by The Austin Chronicle, is recognized as innovative theater across the nation.

Actual Lives Austin is designed for adults, at least 18 years of age, who live with a disability, and is limited to 15 participants. We encourage participation from adults with profound disability, as well as those whose disability may not significantly impede their daily function. In addition, local theater personnel are encouraged to participate, or to provide a venue for the staged reading.

A three-day workshop begins with a focus on generating autobiographical writing through memory and interactive exercises. We then move quickly to the development of autobiographical narratives, either individually or integrated into small group pieces by focusing on common themes among participants (or even on disagreements). The next day's session explores the many ways that images from writing can be translated into meaningful moments in performance, and informal performances for each other. During the sessions, participants have a chance to work individually and in small groups with the instructors and project volunteers. Participants first develop their themes in writing, then work out technical problems, logistics, pacing, etc. The third day is scheduled as a rehearsal and work-day, with the public performance in the evening. The final performance is a staged reading, with some theatrical elements incorporated into selected pieces. Video documentation of the final performance and interviews with the participants during the workshop are provided when possible.

Contact Celia Hughes for more information.

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