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Dupuy, Diane with Liane Heller.

Toronto, Key Porter Books, 1988. 240pp. cloth, $24.95, ISBN 1-55013-122-2. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Joan McGrath

Volume 17 Number 1
1989 January

The Famous People Players have come all the way from "a two-minute show for the cleaning staff in a church basement" to international success, a hit show on Broadway, and much, much more. The triumph of this group of mentally handicapped people who worked together to escape the demeaning effects of being labelled "retards" and who have become the masters of black-light puppetry is told by the woman whose drive and determination made their dreams a reality—by putting their dreams to work.

Diane Dupuy has chutzpah, as she herself agreed once the term had been explained to hen "something between confidence and arrogance, with a big scoop of nerve thrown in." She's not always the easiest person in the world to work with, and her self-conscious posturing in such manoeuvres as "... lifting my big dark eyes toward his face ...," etc., tend to make the reader squirm a little. Never mind that, it worked. She cajolled and pressured everyone from her mother to Liberace into service in a good cause and got the show on the road, and The Famous People Players have benefited thereby.

The account of the company's wobbly early days, the slow initial progress upward, the setbacks and difficulties (Dupuy makes no bones about the specific problems that arise out of working with sometimes intractible people who can't always be reasoned with, who have awkward or even threatening sexual hang-ups, and who make career changes without warning, etc.), and the triumphs she and they so richly deserve is both exhilarating and inspirational. Should be mandatory reading for anyone planning to work with mentally handicapped adolescents or adults.

Joan McGrath, Toronto Board of Education, Toronto, Ont.
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