Birthing, Dying, Becoming Crip Wisdom: 4 questions for Sins Invalid artist Maria R. Palacios

Written by Sven Eberlein

A few years ago, I wrote a piece for YES! Magazine entitled Speaking for All Bodies (Not Just the “Perfect” Ones) about Sins Invalid, a performance project on disability and sexuality that incubates and celebrates artists with disabilities. They are about to follow their acclaimed show “Sins Invalid: An Unshamed Claim to Beauty in the Face of Invisibility” with the world premiere of “Birthing, Dying, Becoming Crip Wisdom,” a series of evocative explorations of creation, aging, and mortality to be staged at San Francisco’s ODC Theater, October 14-16 (Performance times & ticket info on their Facebook event page).

Synopsis: A journey through genesis, transformative power and earth, this performance features cast from 9 years ago as well as emerging artists, prompted by dialogue and questions including: What were your first understandings that your body was disabled? How did your emerging understanding of yourself affect your gender identity? How does disabled embodiment open us to the possibility of a deeper engagement with the universal phenomena of transitions in embodiment? The resulting work is a kaleidoscopic plunge into visions of life and death, the disabled body/mind and liberation.

I had the chance to ask one of the performers, Maria R. Palacios, a few questions via email. I hope it’ll whet your appetite to come out and catch a healthy dose of live crip wisdom.

How did this new production come about? Whose idea was it and how long did it take to put together?

Sins’ shows seem to evolve from the collective energy of the group, although it is Patty [Director Patricia Berne] whose visionary force moves us to create. It’s like she plants a seed — an idea — and we take it and go to work on it. I can’t remember the very moment the idea was born or how, but I do know it was a group process, a discussion of some of our intimate thoughts and crip realities. I think part of the reason this theme was born and became what it is has to do with the fact that we are aging in our disabled bodies. During our discussion of aging with a disability we looped back to the beginning of our personal awareness of our sexuality. And so this crip continuum was born and over the period of over a year we nurtured it and brought it to life into the show you are about to witness and experience.

Without giving anything away, what should attendees expect to see they haven’t seen before?

It is no secret that Sins shows contain explicit material that contains strong language and brings the audiences face to face with some of the issues they have been conditioned to ignore or see as deviant. While the show itself will continue to bring explicit material as it relates to disabled sexuality, this year’s show actually puts our inner child on stage as well as our older selves. The combination of the two makes this year’s show beautifully unique.

“Birthing, Dying, Becoming Crip Wisdom” moves beyond themes of sexuality. Was this more of a natural evolution or a desire to do something completely different?

I think we always strive towards creating something “different”. Our themes over the years have focused on various aspects of our crip sexuality. I personally believe that every show creates us and not the other way around. It is almost unreal how when the energy flows, the theme itself takes form on its own. All we have to do is ride that wave and that’s what we do as performers. I suppose you could say this year’s theme moves us beyond themes of sexuality, but I think more than anything, it brings home the reality that although our crip bodies are aging, our sexuality, our ability to feel sensual and sexy is simply changing along with us. Part of that “change” is what this year’s show brings onstage.

Why is it important for people of all backgrounds to catch this performance?

Sins Invalid is groundbreaking revolutionary artistic advocacy, and nowhere else outside of the transformative show can audiences see and feel the raw essence of disabled sexuality expressed with such artistic power. Audiences need to soak their minds with our truths and be part of this energy of sexy crip activism that has, yet again, given birth to a powerful and sexy production.

Birthing, Dying, Becoming Crip Wisdom

ODC Theater
351 Shotwell Street, San Francisco
Friday 10/14 through Sunday 10/16
Tickets: $25 (no one turned away for lack of funds)
More info:

About the author

Sven Eberlein

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