Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Keith Byron Kirk

Second Advisor

Dr. Aaron Anderson

Third Advisor

Karen Kopryanski


Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion initiatives in higher education have been largely driven by administrators who have little to no contact with the students for whom they are working for. This top-down approach negatively impacts marginalized students and disproportionately affects the quality of experience for students with Disabilities, an often-overlooked demographic. For Disabled students enrolled in performance programs, barriers to access and inclusion don’t just exist at the institutional level, they also exist in the traditional classroom or studio as well. Through a dismantling of ableist structures inherent within higher education (i.e., American grading practices, the Western and Theatrical Canons), I argue that a student-first model of instruction, which functions on the principles of self-reflexivity, educational autonomy, and individual growth is the most direct way to successfully incorporate the guiding principle of access, which is central to achieving equity, diversity, and inclusion within college-level actor-training programs.


© Kevin Kemler

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission