On Friday, June 8th, at 8pm, and Sunday, June 10th, at 2pm, the
University of Oregon Disability Studies Minor and the Shenanigans
Theater Company will present an original musical play, Heroes From
Another Earth, free and open to the public, at 123 Global Scholars
Hall, 1710 E 15th Avenue in Eugene. Street parking is free on Sunday
and after 8 on Friday. The play was written and will be performed in a
collaboration between UO students in Professor Betsy Wheeler's Living
Theater class and adults with disabilities from the local community.
"The play is a hybrid of life stories from the group plus superhero and
sci-fi stories, with five original songs," says Wheeler. "A realistic
tale, about life with disabilities in a world that doesn't understand,
rockets off into stories about a world where people would like to live,
then into not-one-but-two superhero universes." After graduating in
1981 from Bowdoin College in Maine, Wheeler worked in publishing at St.
Martin's Press in New York, then studied for masters and PhD degrees in
comparative literature at the City University of New York and UC
Berkeley. "I ran after-school programs for homeless and low-income kids
in Manhattan and in Oakland," she says. "I'm always interested in
kids." When she finished her PhD in 1996, Wheeler was hired by the UO.
"My colleagues have encouraged me to be creative," she says. "I've
always done a combination of standard fare and my own inventions." She
launched a service learning curriculum, teaching young adult and
children's literature, then sending her students out to serve
internships in local schools. Her book on representations of disability
in young adult and children's literature, titled Handiland: the
Crippest Place on Earth, will be published by the University of
Michigan Press in 2019.
photograph and story by Paul Neevel
Eugene Weekly / 31 May 2018