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photo We Are PHAMALy
By Daniel Junge and Henry Ansbacher, Just Media

PHAMALY stands for the Physically Handicapped Amateur Musical Actors League. This dynamic troupe doesn't cut any corners or make any compromises. The musicals they perform are chosen for their appeal to the audience, not because they are "easy" for the performers, who have a variety of sensory and mobility handicaps.

This engaging and entertaining documentary follows three cast members from their initial auditions through intensive and challenging rehearsals, to opening night, as they take the stage for a remarkable performance of Once Upon a Mattress. Troy Willis (Jester) became legally blind at the age of 25 — a result of diabetes. He has recently returned to the company after a three year hiatus while he dealt with kidney failure and the ultimate need for a kidney and pancreas transplant. Tara Cowan (Queen Aggravain) uses a motorized wheelchair after a spinal injury. Stephen Hahn (Sir Harry), who was born with Spina Bifida, wears leg braces and has increasing mobility difficulties. "It's OK to be disabled, he says. "It's not OK to be disabled and use it as an excuse to not do everything you can to contribute, and to be the best person you can be. But everybody in PHAMALY gives it everything they've got, every day."

DVD version has both closed-captions and audio description.

19 minutes
© 2003
Purchase $199.00 DVD
Order No. QA-408
ISBN (DVD) 1-57292-882-0
close captioned

Reviews
"Editor's Choice. Quite simply these are good actors, excellent singers, and engaging personalities. A powerful tale of personal determination and art triumphant. Highly Recommended." Video Librarian

"Gives insight into the therapeutic use of drama and the arts. Recommended for drama and theater collections and for psychology collections emphasizing social psychology and people with disabilities." Educational Media Reviews Online

"The film's only flaw is that viewer's will wish it was longer! This warm and insightful glimpse into the lives of these performers shines." Breath and Shadow, Journal of Disability Culture and Literature

Awards & Conference Screenings
Tribeca Film Festival
Denver International Film Festival
Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival
Columbus International Film and Video Festival
Western Psychological Association
Brooklyn International Disability Film Festival

Related Films
Outsider: Judith Scott has Down syndrome, is deaf, and does not speak. Yet after 35 years of institutionalization, with the help of a sister who never gave up on her, she emerged to create a series of sculptures that have fascinated and mystified art experts and collectors around the world.

Acting Blind: Takes audiences behind the scenes as a company of non-professional actors rehearse a play about life without sight. The performers have no problem imagining themselves in these roles: they are blind themselves.

Voices in a Deaf Theater: Follows a cast of deaf and hearing actors as they prepare to stage The Glass Menagerie. Offers a window into the expressive language and culture of the deaf world.

Able to Laugh: An amusing and informative glimpse into the world of disability, as interpreted by six professional comics who have a variety of disabilities.

Vital Signs: An edgy, raw documentary exploring the politics of disability through performances at a national conference on disability and the arts. Open-Captioned. Contains strong language and nudity.


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