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26-28 SEPTEMBER 2017

Woman Performing Blind

Amelia Cavallo

Tuesday 26th September, 5:30pm

Photo Credit: Paul Strand





Two constructs that manifest in my body. Each comes with a number of expectations that I layer onto myself and that are layered onto me by others. These layers are old, extending from before my childhood and into present day experience.


Blind Woman.


These ideas are not separate. I cannot “just” be blind or “just” be woman. I have to be both.


What does that mean? How does that manifest? How does my past define me? How do I perform “blind woman” and what does it look like to you?


Showing contains audio description and British Sign Language.

My Research:

My research examines and deconstructs the ocularcentric, sighted norms and expectations (ocular-norms) that are inherent in performance practice. Utilizing my position as a blind woman performer, I demonstrate and trouble the limiting and exclusionary effects of these norms, identifying potential for reclaiming agency and autonomy over them. This research is positioned in the intersecting fields of disability studies and performance placing me as both the researcher and the researched. Using PaR methodologies in conjunction with a critical framework of crip, queer and feminist theory, I examine how my blindness can become a resistive force to ocular-norms as they manifest in tabooed and stereotypical representations of gender, sexuality and disability.

Amelia Cavallo is a blind theatre practitioner with experience in various styles of performance, including acting, singing, music, burlesque and aerial circus. She is also a workshop facilitator, visiting lecturer and a consultant for performance, and disability studies/culture. Publications include Theatre in the Dark: Shadow, Gloom and Blackout in Contemporary Theatre, and "Seeing the word, hearing the image: the artistic possibilities of audio description in theatrical performance" Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance.

'[B]lindness, in and of itself, requires us to be actors every day. [...It] douses us daily in an eternal, inextinguishable spotlight — the play-acting invariably becomes more complex. Striving, constantly, to put others at ease, regardless of our own state-of-being, is an exhausting side-effect of blindness which few people recognize. In some ways, blind people are more accustomed to the pressures of acting than many sighted person will ever be.' 


Hernandez, 2014 (

Photo Credit: Graeae Theatre Company

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