Convener(s): Pete Edwards

Participants: Carl Miller, Rebecca Brown, Robin Bathurst, Kathy Joyce, Suzanne Mapp, Ian ? , Paul Jacob, Michael Achtman (P. Edwards’ creative enabler) and others

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Different types of companies: disabled, disabled-led, non-disabled led, integrated. Different types of disabilities: mobility, sensory, learning; visible and invisible

Question: is it more difficult to get funding for integrated company than disabled-only?

Challenge of non-disabled-led companies to keep non-disabled artists or participants from taking over. One person’s experience with a company that works with learning-disabled actors is to create the work “on the floor”, using particular skills and interests of participants. This requires lengthy exploration process made possible in this case by Arts Council funding.

“Actors are least powerful in the process. Change should come from producers, writers, directors.“

“Society needs to change first. “

FEAR plays a big role!

Using disabled actors presents an artistic question. In the devised work of Improbable Theatre, the work is created using specific actors, they play themselves as well as a role, so you can work with anybody.

What about text-based work? Can you have a disabled Macbeth? Yes, a disabled actor has played that role.

Responsibility for companies to contact and establish communication with disabled actors. The actors themselves cannot always batter down the doors!

Companies have to get to know individuals, that’s how working relationships are established.

There should be informal meetings, exchanges, with no end product, no pressure. i.e., artists spend the day with a disability company or see their work


Dedicated (e.g. disabled only) companies can create pigeonholing and so decrease communication and interaction.

Where are the disabled audiences? Are theatre spaces accessible?

Theatre needs to lead then society will follow.

Someone told a story of a disabled person making involuntary noises during the pauses of a Pinter play, The Dumb Waiter. Pinter, known for his human rights stances, was in the front row and found this unacceptable!