Radical Kindness and Disability Identity on the Contemporary Spanish Stage

Elena García-Martín


When the word kindness is used in the context of disability it often acquires troubling connotations.  If kindness as typically conceived is yoked to ableist perspectives about disability that render the recipient passive, “radical kindness” can be defined as those practices that highlight the agency of disabled individuals both in everyday life and in cultural representation.  In this view, theatre enacts radical kindness when it is put at the service of social change by allowing subjects with dis-ability to speak for themselves, countering prevailing ableist prejudices. In this essay, I examine the implications of this framing of radical kindness in relationship to depictions of disability in two contemporary Spanish plays: La extinta poética [Extinct Poetics] by Eusebio Calonge and Deseos [Desires], by Antonio Alamo. By exploring specific representations of neurodiversity and non-normative bodies, these Spanish authors challenge some of the biases inherent in common perceptions of disability. Both productions pose embodied alterity not merely as a metaphor but rather as a form of resistance that interrogate existing ethical and aesthetic paradigms. But as they do so, they display different degrees of radical kindness in the extent to which they represent disabled agency, independence and strength with (or without) the participation of actors with disabilities.  


Spanish theatre; Theatre of inclusion; Disability; La Zaranda; Antonio Alamo [Kindness; Agency]

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