Ron Jones interviewed Maia Scott at StoryCorps for the Disability Visibility Project™ at StoryCorps in San Francisco on August 14, 2014. Here is one audio clip with text transcripts from their conversation about being disabled artists, what they value about theater performance, and how art can challenge an audience to think beyond binaries.
[Instrumental music – bouncy, happy electronic beat]
[Ron Jones makes intermittent musical sound vocalizations during and throughout the entire conversation]
Maia Scott: We did meet though at the recreation center for the handicapped. Aka RCH aka the Janet Pomeroy Center.
Ron Jones: Yeah Janet Pomeroy Center. We did meet there and we were doing Theater Unlimited, Theater Unlimited. Explain what that consisted of.
Maia Scott: Well, it depends on who you talk to. For many of the clients it was a place to have a voice, to tell stories, to be real, and be alive, and be integrated in the community, and to be whole.
Ron Jones: You’re Blockhead thing, to me, is the most inspirational, theatric, performance art I’ve ever witnessed. You wanna, you wanna….
Maia Scott: Are you calling me a Blockhead? [laughing]
Ron Jones: No… explain what Blockhead is… [laughing]
Maia Scott: Blockhead is basically a cube that sits on my head…um…that has velcro on it and I can put just strange objects like batteries and book lights and toilet paper rolls and big springs and anything and create faces. And then the body of course becomes the character that goes with each face.
Maia Scott: It came out of kind of a deep dark place as an artist, as a visually impaired artist who loves vision and color and movement. I find that when I do pieces like Blockhead or funny things or character things it becomes less about blindness or disability but more about ability and unity and com-munity. We seem to often go to social justice related issues and issues of the big bad able bodied people oppressing the disabled people who overcome. But don’t we all go through that? I mean you could have the wrong colored hair at school and be oppressed for that. You could be the wrong religion. And I’m saying wrong with big juicy neon quotation marks on the outside.
Ron Jones: Wrong… [sing-song tone]
Maia Scott: Because there is no wrong.
Ron Jones: you’re wrong [sing-song tone]
Maia Scott: Wrong [laughing]
Ron Jones: Yeah we’re always told we’re wrong. I wish we have someone just tell us we’re right. You know, right for the love we have for each other, right for community, right for the absurdities we might present or the uniqueness we might have in our souls.
Maia Scott: Right for our spontaneity, right for our pains and sorrows, right for our depression, oppression, and our confessions. Right for all the things that we dare to try and fail at. Right for failing, for crying out loud.
Maia Scott: I want to do work that doesn’t separate us, that acknowledges that we are all broken somehow. We don’t need to be fixed. It’s about seeing each other through different lenses. We with our intent can change ourselves and our communities and… you know. The idea of healing is evoking change in ourselves and social justice is evoking change in our community and sometimes one come with the other and I’d love for theater to do that without actually doing that.
Ron Jones: I think the theater, it gives us a life. It allows us to explore who we are, what we are, what we wanna be, the depressions we might face, the darknesses and the light. It just lets us express that and comes to terms with it.
Ron Jones: The stage is that strange place we all walk in together and we sit in this dark room and we kinda revel in life’s experiences. Maybe life is improve and we just don’t realize it.
[Instrumental music – peppy upbeat guitar building towards a drum entrance that fades out]
Music Credit (Electric Mirrors by Reverse Commuting and Youth Pictures by Florence Henderson by To Sit Down or Follow So I Follow are licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License):
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Disability Visibility Project™. (2017, January 2). DVP Interview: Maia Scott and Ron Jones. Retrieved from: http://wp.me/p4H7t1-N5R
A photo featuring Maia Scott, Ron Jones, and Maia’s guide dog was taken on August 14, 2014: close up portrait of a guide dog, a woman and man all sitting next to each other looking at the camera. The guide dog on the far left is a golden retriever with its nose and face pointed at the camera. The woman in the middle appears to be white and has long brown hair. The man on the right appears to be white, is bald, wearing glasses, dressed in a black shirt, and smiling at the camera.
Produced for the Disability Visibility Project™ by Yosmay del Mazo and Alice Wong with interviews recorded by StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the story of our lives. For more: www.storycorps.org and www.disabilityvisibilityproject.com