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Nothing about us without us

Disability & the Performing Arts Resource List



Nothing About Us Without Us is a cultural student organization at the University of Houston. This resource guide highlights articles, books and audio visual materials related to disability representation the performing arts community. 


Brett: A Life with No Arms

This incredibly moving film sees BAFTA-award winning filmmaker Roger Graef travel to Australia to reconnect with Brett Nielsen who, 50 years ago, was the subject of Roger’s first ever documentary, One of them is Brett. This original documentary told the story of a then four year old Brett who had been born without arms due to Thalidomide. It proved to be a landmark in broadcasting on the subject of disability, was shown around the world and went on to win numerous awards. Brett inspired viewers then, and this new film will inspire viewers today also. As he says himself, ‘it doesn’t matter what happens to you in your life, it matters how you deal with it.’ Brett is now an accomplished motivational speaker, successful recording and concert artist – playing the piano with his toes - and an accomplished music producer. He is father now to three children and we see in this incredibly inspiring film, how Brett is now swapping roles with his own father who, in ailing health, needs his support.

Shameless: The Art of Disability

What does it mean to be disabled and how does it shape an artist’s work? This documentary explores what is known as the disability art movement, following five artists—including a painter, a writer, an actor, a theater director, and a filmmaker, all of whom happen to have physical disabilities—through their creative work. Intense group discussions of artistic and personal goals are also recorded. Dispelling the myth of tragic disability, the film depicts its subjects as, first and foremost, creative people. The result is a profound look at, and celebration of, the act of making art—viewed through the lens of disability and the rejection of its stereotypes. (49 minutes)



Common Ground: Dance & Disability

This video shows individuals with a variety of disabilities exploring physical movement and dance. It features people in and out of wheelchairs practicing balances and lifts and improvising movement sequences.


Joe Chaikin and American Experimental Theater

The story of Joe Chaikin’s professional life is also the story of experimental theater in America. In this intimate program, footage of Chaikin in action as well as interviews with playwrights Edward Albee, Sam Shepard, Jean-Claude van Itallie, and John Belluso; writer Susan Sontag; and many others reveal Chaiken’s devotion to the stage—a love that even severe aphasia, the result of a stroke, could not diminish. A variety of clips spanning Chaikin’s acting/directing career—from his early days, with the Open Theatre and the Living Theatre, to later, poststroke work, most notably with actors with disabilities—are featured.