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"I Was Never Alone": An Ethnographic Play -

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“I Was Never Alone”: An Ethnographic Play

February 5, 2016 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

UNC’s Department of Communication, Arts at the Core, and the UNC department of Medical Anthropology Present:


I Was Never Alone is a new play that focuses on the personal narratives of seven adults with disabilities living in contemporary Russia, presented as a sees of monologue-portraits.

 For US audiences, the play sheds light on assumptions about what daily life is like in contemporary Russia, and asks the audience to contend with discrimination against people with disabilities in their own lives. For Russian audiences, it represents a key emergence of disability-theater, in a culture and society where people with disabilities are still rarely depicted outside of the role of charity-seeking needy poor. And for all audiences, it resonates with universal themes of love, relationships, coming of age, and a sense of belonging. 

“Performance ethnography is an important genre of research because it focuses on opening a space for discussion and dialogue,” says Cassandra Hartblay, playwright and ethnographer of I Was Never Alone. “So often researchers summarize what they’ve learned in the field in text, and there is little room for audiences “back home” to engage with the work in a way that changes it. Holding the staged reading and talk back sessions at UNC will be an exciting moment for me as an ethnographer because I will get to hear what people are hearing in, and taking away from, the stories that I get to tell.”

 All events will be held in the Black Box Studio Six Theater in Swain Hall on the UNC-CH campus. After Friday’s performance, there will be a discussion with the playwright, the actors, and the director; a discussion with a panel of scholars will be held after Saturday’s performance. Tickets for the performance are free of charge, but a $5 donation at the door is recommended and appreciated.


February 5, 2016
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm