On September 26, 2023, Sally Gould-Taylor, the Executive Director of the Institute on Disabilities, moderated a round table discussion after the performance of the world premier opera "10 Days in a Madhouse." Produced by Opera Philadelphia at the Wilma Theatre, "10 Days in a Madhouse" follows reporter Nellie Bly through her internment at Blackwell's Asylum and addresses the notions of madness and societal biases against women.
The roundtable discussion provided an opportunity for panelists and audience members to reflect on how the experiences of Nellie Bly parallel Pennsylvania history. The lively discussion touched on how Pennsylvania's historical institutionalization of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities mirrors the events on Blackwell's Island. In addition, participants explored how the experience of Nellie Bly reinforces the importance of inclusion of people with disabilities, women, and other marginalized groups. Finally, the group reflected on how systems of inequity based on disability, gender, race and socio-economic status intersect to shape life experiences today.
Jamie Ray-Leonetti, the Institute's Associate Director of Policy curated the round-table discussion and collaborated throughout the summer with the Opera Philadelphia and its Vice President of Community Initiatives Veronica Chapman-Smith to help develop accessible educational programming around this groundbreaking opera. The round-table discussion is the culmination of that work.
Jamie shared her experiences working with Opera Philadelphia in her blog.