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Disability Performance: Culture, Community, Inclusion, and Activism

A conversation with Jim Lebrecht BA '78, Petra Kuppers, and Regan Linton MFA '13 

moderated by PhD student Jesse Marchese 

When: May 16 @ 5:30pm

Where: Zoom; ID: 948 2136 3954


About the Talk

In this panel, we will hear from Petra Kuppers (University of Michigan), Regan Linton (MFA ’13), and Jim LeBrecht (BA ‘78) on the topic of disability and performance. PhD student, Jesse Marchese, will moderate. Petra Kuppers will speak on disability culture perspectives in relation to performance making and reception, Regan Linton will discuss disability inclusion in actor training and theatrical production, and Jim LeBrecht will discuss the importance of media and performance in the work of disability activism. The discussion will then converge as our panelists take a few questions from the moderator and our audience about imagining and enacting a more inclusive and accessible future for disability performance.


About the Panelists

Petra Kuppers (she/her) is the Anita Gonzalez Collegiate Professor of Performance Studies and Disability Culture in the Departments of English and Women's & Gender Studies at University of Michigan. She is also a disability culture activist and a community performance artist. She creates participatory community performance environments that think/feel into public space, tenderness, site-specific art, access, and experimentation. Petra grounds herself in disability culture methods, and uses ecosomatics, performance, and speculative writing to engage audiences toward more socially just and enjoyable futures. 

Petra received the American Society for Theatre Research’s best dance/theatre book award, the National Women’s Caucus for the Arts’ Award for Arts and Activism, and her performance poetry collection Gut Botany was named one of the top ten US poetry books of 2020 by the New York Public Library. 

She is the Artistic Director of The Olimpias, an international disability culture collective, and co-creates Turtle Disco, a somatic writing studio, with her wife, poet and dancer Stephanie Heit, from their home in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Her most recent book, Eco Soma: Pain and Joy in Speculative Performance Encounters, is now available from the University of Minnesota Press.


Regan Linton is an actor, director, writer, filmmaker, advocate, educator, and change maker from Denver, CO. She spent 5 years as Artistic Director of Phamaly Theatre Company in Denver, a preeminent, award-winning disability-affirmative nonprofit theatre for professional actors with all nature of disability. Regan received her BA at USC, Master of Social Work at the University of Denver, and her MFA in Acting from UC San Diego as the first wheelchair user ever to attend the prestigious program.

As an actor, Regan has performed with Arena Stage, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Mixed Blood (MN), La Jolla Playhouse, Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ Off-Center, Pasadena Playhouse, Big-I (Osaka, Japan), The Apothetae (NY), and Phamaly, among others.

As a director, Regan excels at creating projects that center inclusive, accessible practice and innovative, high-calibre artistry. In 2021, Regan co-directed the award-winning documentary imperfect, which follows the intimate stories of diverse actors with disabilities who defy stereotypes and upend perfection with a production of Chicago.

As a writer, Regan is a regular featured contributor to New Mobility Magazine, and her writing has been featured in Theatre Forum, national TCG Diversity Salons, Hollywood Fringe, and Chalk Rep. Her new chapter on disability inclusion in actor training was published in Routledge’s Inclusivity and Equality in Performance Training, edited by Petronilla Whitfield.


Jim LeBrecht is the co-director (with Nicole Newnham) and subject of the acclaimed, Academy Award-nominated documentary Crip Camp (2020) about Camp Jened, a summer camp in New York designed for teens with disabilities. The documentary tells the story of how LeBrecht and his fellow campers became activists for the disability rights movement and follows their fight for civil rights legislation for people with disabilities.

LeBrecht also has over 40 years of experience as a film and theater sound designer and mixer, author and disability rights activist. Jim began his career in theater, working as the resident sound designer at the Berkeley Repertory Theater for 10 years. His film credits include The Island PresidentThe Waiting RoomAudry and Daisy, and of course, Crip Camp. A complete list of his film credits can be viewed at IMDB.

 Jim co-authored Sound and Music for the Theater: The Art and Technique of Design. Now in its 4th edition, the book is used as a textbook all over the world. Jim’s work as an activist began in high school and continued at UC San Diego, where he helped found the Disabled Students Union. Jim is currently a board member of the Disability Education and Defense Fund, which works for the rights of the disabled through education, legislation, and litigation.




About the Moderator

Jesse Marchese is a third-year PhD student in the Department of Theatre & Dance at UC San Diego. He is a theater writer, scholar, director, dramaturg, and administrator whose research and production work exists at the intersection of queer theory, post-structuralism, and 20th century performance. For UC San Diego, he directed IYA: The Ex’celen Remember by Luis “xago” Juarez and inspired by Louise J. Miranda Ramirez, tribal chairwoman of the Ohlone/Costanoan-Esselen Nation, as well as Epicene: A Queer Extravaganza, which he co-wrote with Emmalias and a company of undergraduate students. He also served as production dramaturg for Napoli by Eduardo De Filippo and directed by Marco Barricelli. From 2017 to 2019, Jesse was Executive Director of Astoria Performing Arts Center (APAC) in Queens, where he produced acclaimed productions of Follies and Caroline, or Change, and premiere productions of Madhuri Shekar’s Queen and Monet Hurst-Mendoza’s Veil’d. Prior to his work at APAC, Jesse served as Associate Director of Off-Broadway’s award-winning Mint Theater Company where he helped to produce nearly fifteen productions, two of which he also directed: The Lucky One by A.A. Milne and The Fatal Weakness by George Kelly (nominated for two 2015 Drama Desk Awards and three Henry Hewes Design Awards). His work, as a writer, researcher, dramaturg, and director, has also been seen at The Civilians, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, New York City Children’s Theater, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, York Theatre Company, New World Stages, Theater for the New City, Gallery Players, Village Light Opera Group, and Marymount Manhattan College. He received his BA in Theatre Arts at Marymount Manhattan College and his MA in Theatre at CUNY Hunter College, where he was twice awarded with the Vera Mowry Roberts Foundation Fellowship for academic excellence.