In a vaguely familiar time and place, children gathered inside the grey walls of a hospital are given diagnoses they don’t understand and told to work towards correcting their ills, or face the consequences. Kinderkrankenhaus explores neurodiversity, the pathologizing of difference, and the complexity of labels in a world where the unspeaking are seen as unthinking. Can the children learn to live in this place where concepts like love are indefinable but they are still expected to know when something does not conform to its boundaries?
“Kinderkrankenhaus is a play of agency. Of how agency is given and un-given. The agency of children. The agency of a word. This or it? Are they the same thing? In Kinderkrankenhaus, Jesi Bender provides a new manual for the words, ahem, worlds, that are allowed, and how to allow them anyway. ‘Isn’t everything made visible through me?’ Bender asks, answers.”
—Dalton Day, author of Exit, Pursued
“With this bold new piece of hybrid playwriting, Jesi Bender deftly choreographs the traumas of abandonment (familial & societal) alongside the treasures of youth. These lines will pull you in, but like Kinderkrankenhaus’s stage, Bender’s words are edged with sparks. Let them warn and warm you alike.”
—Tyler Crumrine, editor of Plays Inverse Press