Next to Normal and the Persistence of Pathology in Performances of Psychosocial Disability
Keywords:psychosocial disability, madness, mental illness, theater, performance
The award-winning musical Next to Normal is widely lauded for addressing the stigma of mental illness. However, the play uses a medical model of psychosocial disability in a way that narrows and sanitizes the representation of people who have such disabilities. Analyzing Next to Normal’s performances, critical reviews, artist commentary, and audience reactions, this article argues that the musical fails to remove stigma associated with people with psychosocial disabilities and overlooks an ecological perspective that would better honor their experiences.
Keywords: psychosocial disability, madness, mental illness, theater, performance