In rehearsal she usually goes barefoot, revealing bright green toenails.
Her plays tend to be about people who she feels have been overlooked by the theater establishment.
The Dis Ability Project was the first group of its kind in St. In the fall of 1996 Lipkin was diagnosed with breast cancer — "ironically," she comments dryly.
After she recovered, she began to work with her ensemble to create a repertoire of sketches.
Tom, Huck and Becky Thatcher, quickly bored, incite the rest of the cast to beat the narrator into silence with foam pool noodles. Locker reads the verses, and Lipkin sings the chorus: "I won't mope around and curse my luck, on the outside looking in." By the third go-round, all the actors have joined in.
But when Tom and Huck announce they are leaving to go find some excitement, Becky wonders aloud why she and the chorus can't have adventures, too. "That's us," exclaims Ana Jennings, one of the group's long-time members, "on the outside looking in." "Yeah," Stuart Falk agrees, "but now we're staring back." "When I go to certain places," Lipkin likes to say, "I notice who isn't there." Lipkin herself is difficult to ignore.
Much later, as an adult working with Uppity, she began to realize that disability theater was a natural outgrowth of feminism, in the sense that both women and disabled people are defined by their bodies.
In 1996 she attended a workshop at the Atlanta Center for the Arts with the playwright and director Joseph Chaikin, who had written several experimental plays about disability.
Lipkin says her 1989 revue, Some of My Best Friends Are..., was the first piece of gay and lesbian theater performed in St. Uppity's office is also her home, a Central West End apartment she shares with a cockatiel named Mr. This year, in addition to Tom Sawyer, she created Becoming Emily, the story of a nurse severely injured in an abortion-clinic bombing, and Beyond Stonewall: Why We March, in honor of the October 11 National Equality March on Washington.Once an audience sees what life is like for a disabled person, Lipkin believes, they'll think and behave differently. "Everything cracks open." This is the cast's first meeting in its new rehearsal space, the sanctuary of the Central Reform Congregation in the Central West End.The ten actors, eight of them in wheelchairs, sit in a circle and update one another about their summer: job-searching, apartment-hunting, accidents with their chairs. Lipkin calls it a "safe zone." In February, as part of the Big Read Festival, the ensemble will perform its own version of Tom Sawyer.There are many ways to fight for social change: marching, shouting, stripping.Joan Lipkin has tried them all, most memorably in 2004 when she enlisted 51 other women to help her protest the war in Iraq by lying down stark naked on the roof of the City Museum in the shape of a peace sign. On this sunny September morning she's about to launch the fourteenth season of the Dis Ability Project, known as the DP.