A provocative social critique of the dehumanisation of people with dwarfism.

Currently viewing on the Museum Of Contemporary Art website on behalf of ArtScreen

Debra performing “Little Things Matter”



An Audio Visual art work in 5 acts / 2 screens

Screen shot from the production at Anita’s Theatre, Thirroul NSW

Smashing is now complete and I will be announcing some very exciting news regarding the Premiere showing soon. More info on my Blog page

Finalist Cannes Short Film Festival 2022


Rehearsing a scene from SMASHING

Directors: Debra Keenahan, Louis Pratt, Simon Rippingale

Dramaturge: Katrina Douglas

Cinematography: Evan Papageorgiou

Sound and Music: Paul Prestipino

Supported with funding from

Australian Council For The Arts

Create NSW’s Arts and Cultural Funding Program

Accessible Arts-ArtScreen

Debra prepares to step up into the spotlight – but to get to the stage she has to smash her way through physical and social barriers. To fight for dignity and respect.

Each act can be experienced in any order -or as a stand alone work

Smashing will be supported by Whispering Forest a soundtrack by Paul Prestipino. Mumbled and whispered comments, compliments, insults and affirmations – immersing viewers of the work into the psychophysical and psychosocial world of a person with dwarfism.

Smashing is a video work projected across two screens. The viewer is taken on a visual journey from Debra’s metaphoric preparations to battle the discriminations of every day, you join her in the physical challenges of an unkindly designed world.

Then navigate alongside her through the crowd of stares, whispers, pokes, prods, smirks and guffaws. With her goal in sight, you will gasp, wince and cheer as it takes all her effort to break through the barriers that tell people like her …. “you can’t ”.

Finally, Debra reflects upon her journey as she grasps the ultimate prize for a dwarf….to be treated with respect.


Smashing challenges long held stereotypes about a group of people with a physical disability. Those people have traditionally been the brunt of jokes and ridicule and their physical condition remains socially acceptable to deride – that group is people with dwarfism.

Such derisive attitudes manifest in negative treatment with the majority of dwarf people having experienced violence in their lifetime directly related to their dwarfism.

Traditional representations of this physical difference present these people as “caricatures” of human beings – visual curiosities portrayed with either a comedic quality to be ‘laughed at’, or as resentful, vindictive and evil and so ‘to be feared’. Portrayal of their humanity or respectful consideration of their physical capacities has not received adequate artistic representation beyond the genre of fantasy or media appeals for charity.

This artwork is framed as a critical reflection on discriminatory beliefs, attitudes and practices that limit options for people with dwarfism significantly beyond those that are biological. By capturing the dignified physical prowess, exertion, dexterity, versatility and strategic social awareness required by people with dwarfism to manage their physical and social environments, the purpose of this work is to figuratively “Shatter” preconceived negative notions about dwarfism.


1. Preparing for Battle

It takes a lot of self-care to maintain dignity against an onslaught of insults every day. Debra wipes away the smear of social stigma and everything that the ‘normal’ world thinks of her. She dons her armour… just to walk down the street.

2. Walking the Line

Having a different body presents interesting challenges. Debra needs strength, agility and tenacity as she maneuvers in, through, around, up and over a world designed and made without her in mind.

3. A Face in the Crowd

Being a dwarf means you stand out in the crowd. Debra is jostled, pushed, poked, stared at, smirked upon and laughed at by people in the crowd, emboldened by their anonymity. She has to always be on guard to deflect the real and rhetorical threats to her dignity.

4. Smashing

Having come this far there remains just one more thing for Debra to do. She can see the prize, almost taste it and feel it but it’s not quite hers. Her moment on the stage. Debra breaks through the barriers of ignorance and righteousness that shout “You’re a dwarf – you can’t…”

Test video

5. Little Things Matter

Once on the stage Debra has you prepared. The audience laugh, smile, shake their heads, cough nervously and look embarrassingly at the floor. Perhaps Debra is talking to you about what she has fought so hard to achieve, but she was never asking for a lot …. just respect

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