A Fierce Kind of Love

A Fierce Kind of Love: A Community Conversation in Performance, Image, Story and Dialogue. The Institute has embarked on the creative interpretation of an untold civil rights story - the history of Pennsylvania's Intellectual Disability Rights Movement. With support from The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, the Institute commissioned and developed A Fierce Kind of Love, a play written by Obie-nominated theatre artist Suli Holum and directed by David Bradley. A Fierce Kind of Love uses word, movement, and song to examine the Movement's history and celebrate the struggle, activism, and fierce love that fuels the desire for dignity.

For anyone who has ever wanted to be accepted, be heard or be loved for who they are.

Forty years ago, living a fully realized life in the community was impossible for most people with intellectual disabilities. Pressured by medical professionals and society, many parents gave up their children to institutional care. For parents who kept their children at home, the burden was at least as great. While some reluctantly accepted their situation, others, predominately mothers, were determined to change systems. These "accidental warriors" dedicated themselves to fighting for their children's rights, forging a new community of activists. As a direct result of their efforts, Pennsylvania became the first state to pass landmark legislation that opened public schools to children with disabilities, closed institutions, and made it possible for people to live self-determined lives in the community.

Despite its significance, Pennsylvania's role in the Movement remains largely untold. A Fierce Kind of Love is the cornerstone of a yearlong series of coordinated events that offers multiple points of entry into this hidden history. Through performance, photography, storytelling and interview, A Fierce Kind of Love hopes to stimulate new understanding, and engage a broad community in the stories, themes, and ongoing activism of the Intellectual Disability Rights Movement.