A FIERCE KIND OF LOVE
SULI HOLUM / DAVID BRADLEY
For the past year, The Institute on Disabilities at Temple University has been at work on a multi-component project called Visionary Voices aimed at telling the stories of Pennsylvania’s Intellectual Disability Rights Movement.
A key element of Visionary Voices has been the commissioning and first year of development of “A Fierce Kind of Love,” a play written by Obie-nominated theater artist and Pig Iron co-founder Suli Holum and directed by David Bradley, a long-time company member at People’s Light and frequent collaborator with the National Constitution Center, Philadelphia Young Playwrights and others. This play is now the centerpiece of a two-year project that will culminate in production of the play in a multi-component event in 2015.
“A Fierce Kind of Love (AFKOL)” tells the stories of Pennsylvania’s Intellectual Disability Rights Movement in word, movement and song. The play portrays the challenges and triumphs of parents who fought for the right to keep their children with disabilities at home, often at great personal cost. It brings to life the choices of ordinary people who became radicalized when they were told that schools couldn’t serve their children. It shows the journey of people with disabilities who found their personal and collective voice and used it to demand that institutions be closed and their people freed. “AFKOL” celebrates struggle, activism and the fierce love that fuels the desire for dignity.
This project has featured the creative contributions of Philadelphia artists Lee Ann Etzold, Melanye Finister, Teri Lamm, James Sugg and Brian Anthony Wilson and aspiring actors Erin McNulty and Michael McClendon. Fundamental to the approach has been the inclusion of performers with intellectual disabilities who join the professional actors to create a diversity rarely seen on stage. In March, “AFKOL” had a sold-out reading and post-show town hall at Christ Church Neighborhood House that featured an audience participating live from the University of Pittsburgh and also a web simulcast.