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Disabilities & Mental Illnesses

A Christmas Carol – Keyano Theatre Company
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This guide will assist you in finding plays tackling issues related to physical or mental disabilities. If you need more help, our librarians welcome any questions you may have regarding your search.

Our Online Catalogue

A great way to start your search is by accessing our online catalogue. To locate plays tackling issues related to disabilities, try these suggested keywords:

Suggested Keywords:

  • Alzheimer’s (disease)*
  • Autism*
  • blindness*
  • brain injury*
  • deaf
  • dementia*
  • depression*
  • Down Syndrome*
  • eating disorders*
  • handicap
  • handicapped
  • hearing impaired*
  • mental health*
  • mental illness*
  • people with a disability*
  • syndrome


Your keyword search results will be extensive and inclusive and you may find some items in this type of search not directly related to your topic. For example, any title with your specified search word(s) in the description will appear among the search results.

*For a more specific search results list, you can use the above starred keywords in a Subject search, or try an Advanced search with multiple search terms.

Recommended Titles


21: Growing up Down by Michele Makrouhi Miller

Jane is a young woman with Down syndrome who dreams of a career on the stage. She lives with her devoted mother, Elaine, who thinks Jane’s goals are unrealistic. New to town is Bob, the newly widowed, alcoholic father of Max, who is also a young man with Down syndrome. Jane meets Max at the musical theatre class she attends weekly, along with eight other Down syndrome students. A romance develops, not without its many obstacles. Without her mother’s knowledge, Jane gets cast in a local musical revue and is confronted with the real world her mother tried to shield her from. With twists and turns, challenges and triumphs, Jane, and everyone around her, experiences the growth that naturally occurs when one moves out of their comfort zone and reaches for their dream. The result is stunning and surprising.

Jim Forgetting by Col Cseke

“Jim Forgetting” is an unflinching portrait of a year in the life of Jim and Donna, a middle-aged couple struggling with Jim’s early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. While watching her husband slowly disappear, Donna’s patience and love is pushed to heartbreaking limits. She is left to ask: When love is composed of moments remembered and dreams shared, what happens to a marriage when memories fade and futures disappear? “Jim Forgetting” is an unforgettable story of one woman’s decision.

Dancing Lessons by Mark St. Germain

DANCING LESSONS centers on Ever, a young man with Asperger’s syndrome, who seeks the instruction of a Broadway dancer to learn enough dancing to survive an awards dinner. The dancer, Senga, however, is recovering from an injury that may stop her dancing career permanently. As their relationship unfolds, they’re both caught off-guard by the discoveries—both hilarious and heartwarming—that they make about each other and about themselves.

Some Blow Flutes by Mary Vingoe

Inspired by a quote from the I Ching about how we respond to tragedy – “Some weep, some blow upon flutes” – Mary Vingoe’s play is the story of Costas, an elderly Greek shoe repairman whose wife Elena suffers from dementia and whose marriage has been eroded by a family secret. Costas is in denial of his wife’s illness, but Lia, their teenage granddaughter who cares for her grandmother, is not. Costas’ life is altered when Sandra, a professional organizer who cannot begin to organize her own life, enters his shop. An unlikely, at times humorous friendship develops between the two – until we discover that Sandra’s estranged daughter Marijke is fourteen and pregnant. A chance meeting between Elena and Marijke leads to an unraveling of past lives and buried grievances which play out with unexpected results. Some Blow Flutes brings the issue of dementia into the open and explores the possibility of compassion and redemption in the face of overwhelming odds.

The Gravitational Pull of Bernice Trimble by Beth Graham

Iris Trimble is trying to hold it all together. She may very well fly off the face of the earth if she doesn’t hang on to the kitchen counter. At least that’s how she feels after her mother, Bernice, a lively, recently widowed fifty-five-year-old breaks the news that she has early onset Alzheimer’s. In an effort to cope with the stress, Iris makes her mother’s famous Everything-That-Is-Bad-For-You casserole, a childhood favourite. Her siblings, on the other hand, are on opposite sides of the spectrum: Sara, the eldest, irately calls for a second opinion, while Peter, the youngest, seems completely unfazed. As for Bernice, she’s still as vivacious as ever, always up for a good laugh, and, most of all, ready to finally put herself first. The Gravitational Pull of Bernice Trimble is about the tricky nature of family dynamics and the effects of mental illness seen through the eyes of a young woman who’s searching for her own feelings amidst the whirlwind emotions of her family.

So, How Should I Be? by Linda A. Carson

A play for audiences as young as ten years old, “So, How Should I Be?” integrates technology, illusion, and storytelling to address the underlying triggers that could lead to an Eating Disorder. Through personal, true stories from three generations, the actors look for clues that might help someone steer clear of the trap. The three characters, Ilana, Joel and Manami set off to discover how voices can get stuck in someone’s head and then take over to become a “Thought Monster”. Just as their experiment is getting dangerous, a book magically appears with verbatim stories from three generations to help them unravel the mystery. As they travel more deeply into the territory of mental illness and disordered eating, Ilana reveals that one of the stories in the book is her own. Together they help Ilana keep her two feet on the ground as she tackles the thoughts in her head.

Shortlisted – 2019 Sharon Enkin Plays for Young People Award

Cost of Living by Martyna Majok

Cost of Living deftly challenges the typical perceptions of those living with disabilities and delves deep into the ways class, race, nationality, and wealth can create gulfs between people, even as they long for the ability to connect. Eddie, an unemployed truck driver, and his estranged ex-wife, Ani, find themselves unexpectedly reunited after a terrible accident leaves her quadriplegic. John, a brilliant PhD student with cerebral palsy, hires Jess, a first-generation recent graduate who has fallen on desperate times, as his new aide.

The Thrill by Judith Thompson

Elora Dixon is a vibrant, middle-aged lawyer and disability-rights activist who has never walked a step in her life. A neuromuscular disease left her with a curved spine and a reliance on around-the-clock care. Nonetheless, she is an inexorable force when chance pits her against the notorious Julian Summer, who is in town promoting his internationally bestselling book. Julian is a fervent supporter of euthanasia, and Elora is the counter-argument–a living rebuke to parents who want the option of euthanizing a disabled newborn. So it comes as a shock, especially to Elora, when the two find themselves acutely attracted to one another. Will she learn to negotiate her feelings and her convictions, or will Julian’s beliefs begin to colour her own?

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