Handicapped Humor | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Handicapped Humor

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To the editors:

I am writing in response to Ms. Barnidge's recent review of our production, The Boys Next Door [July 2].

As this work was the most performed play in the world in 1991, I am confused by her interpretation of the playwright's intent.

One of our cast members has a mentally handicapped daughter. We have performed for social workers and parents of children residing in transitional homes. Their response has been 100 percent positive.

Incidentally, the playwright's intent was to allow the audience an opportunity to understand that there is great humor in the world of the handicapped and that they appreciate a "guilt free" acceptance of the "antics."

The predominant response has been that the audience has laughed, cried, and gone home thinking about these issues for days. Many have returned with friends and family. There is a great deal of conscience in that.

Finally, a note of interest for Ms. Barnidge from the parent of a mentally handicapped child--yes, he hopes she's able to dismiss her guilt and her qualms and please cheerfully mimic the wonderfully funny things his daughter says and does--his daughter would love that. She would feel loved and accepted and special.

I am pleased that our audiences have brought home that message.

Thomas Tuohy

Camelot Production Company

Mary Shen Barnidge replies:

Last week I was chided for not noting the suffering of the mentally handicapped. Now I am chided for not laughing at them. It is not unusual for audience members' perceptions to be colored by their own experiences.

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