Disability in Drama

I’ve read two great blogs this week discussing the portrayal of disability in drama and the lack of accurate and positive characters. It’s frustrating both as a disabled actress and as a disabled viewer to see inaccuracies and stereotypes on screen so it’s very much welcome that broadcasters and scriptwriters are finally engaging with this issue with some enthusiasm. I’d like to try and assure any script writers reading this that it’s not so daunting to write characters with a disability; you write them just as you would any other character, the same range of human emotions, just with a limb missing or paralysis or reduced hearing or sight; it’s incidental not integral. The plot shouldn’t focus on their disability, if you ask most of us we’ll tell you it’s not the centre of our daily lives.

If you still need proof that you can ignore a disability on screen I urge you to watch ‘Game of Thrones’, Peter Dinklage is bloody brilliant as Tyrion Lannister; the writing and his performance  strip away any preconceived ideas about disability and capability.  (He reminds me of JR Ewing, the dynamic, unscrupulous bastard with a sexy twinkle in his eye). It proves how simply the physicality of disability can add a layer to the scenes, any challenges to staging or screening can be overcome with the assistance and input of actors with disabilities; we’re professionals who know our own disabilities and their nuances and we’re well practiced at overcoming dramatic and logistical challenges.

Below is an article I wrote in 2009 for the BBC in house magazine ‘Ariel’ discussing this same topic and also I’ve attached links to the other blogs I mentioned so do please take a read, they make excellent points.

Blog by Katie Boyles:

http://nuttynatterchatter.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/script-reader-gripes-3-why-arent-we.html

Piece by Lisa Hammond on Stella Duffy’s Blog:

http://stelladuffy.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/writing-the-invisible-visible-and-doing-it-well/

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About Shannon Murray

I am an actress, broadcaster, writer and lawyer; not really that unusual but I am also paraplegic as a result of an accident as a teenager. This is the place where I ramble on about random stuff.
This entry was posted in Disability, Published Articles, Television and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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