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Cheryl Marie Wade performing
Cheryl Marie Wade performing her one-woman show, "Sassy Girl"

Cheryl Marie Wade is a writer and performer who created and starred in a one-woman show called "Sassy Girl: Memoirs of a Poster Child Gone Awry." The show was produced in 1994, to rave reviews, at Brava Theater Center in San Francisco, and later toured to other cities.

Wade also founded Wry Crips, a California disabled women's theater group, in 1985. This was one of the early artistic endeavors emerging from the disability-rights community. The Wry Crips presented poems, skits, and dramatic readings by women with disabilities, expressing their own feelings about their lives.

Here is an excerpt from Cheryl Marie Wade's play "Sassy Girl: Memoirs of a Poster Child Gone Awry." After the reading, there are some questions to help you think about Wade's experiences as a teenager, and how she expresses them in her writing and performance.

"Mother and Daddy moved to the house while I was in the hospital. I'm sixteen. It's the time I landed in the wheelchair permanently. Every time is a visit me, they're raving on and on about the house. This great new modern one-story house with a huge backyard and I'm so excited, so jazzed, I can't wait to get home because I'm thinking how great it's going to be. Not like the old house with all the stairs. I'll be able to come and go as I please. I'll have all this freedom. And as we're driving up to the house, the first thing I see: three stairs. Three goddam stairs.

"'How could you? How could you?'

"If my own parents can't bear to look at me, if I'm invisible even to these people who've known me always, I haven't got a prayer. I haven't got a prayer. And I think this is just the way they want it. Me, dependent. Them with all the power. And then it can go on forever: How wonderful you are the way you care for your poor crippled girl.

"I'm not being fair. These are my parents; I love Mother and Daddy. Haven't they sacrificed so much for me? They take good care of me. I have nice clothes, plenty of food. I love my mother and father. And besides, they're so cool. Everyone says I have the coolest parents -- they let me smoke and drink when I was sixteen. I love my parents.

"It's a lot easier to hate a house."

Questions for Discussion:

  • What emotions come across most strongly in this excerpt? How does Wade convey these emotions? Does she state them directly, or indirectly?
  • What does the last line mean? -- "It's a lot easier to hate a house." Why does the teenage Cheryl Marie Wade hate the house? What do you think the house represents to Wade?
  • In the third paragraph, what does Wade mean when she uses the word "invisible"?
  • How do Wade's memories of being 16 years old differ from your experiences as a teenager? How are the experiences similar?

Woman with Juice: More on Cheryl Marie Wade

(Next - Disability Culture Profile: Greg Smith)

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