Attendees: Hannah Q, Tim B, Emily D, Michelle I, Lorna H, Jessi P, Jo W, Racheal S, Elana B, Nicole A, Jess T, Liz c, Ben K, Ben H, Aislinn M, Nataly L

Children's stories in theatre - can we change the stories we are telling them?

Good theatre is good theatre regardless of a specialism, but the two things don't need to be mutually exclusive

The younger we start the better - attendee mentioned a play in which the central character was a wheelchair user and that as a wheelchair user this had not been something represented when they were a child and so it was not something that made them feel that theatre was a place for them.

Age recommendations - whose responsibility is it to decide what this is? Who chooses what children and young people are exposed to and when? What themes are acceptable at what age?

Why does everything need to be about issues, why can't their be a better balance of both issue-led and non issue-led

Can't shows just include in an "other" without their "otherness" being the focus of the story?

We need stories that represent the layers and intersectionality not just one thing.

The burden of representation is heavy - there is an expectation from audiences to represent them all

Identity is not central to character

Where is the joy in life of a disabled person being represented??

There is a sense that queer sexualities are more 'sexual' than straight sexualities and therefore are more risky - was pointed out that in the early days of Youtube LGBTQIA content was all restricted.

The narrow representation is often due to the people in positions of power not being diverse enough; executives, artistic directors, producers, programmers etc

The burden of trying to explain to people in positions of power why is it important to see yourself represented on stage is exhausting especially when those people see themselves represented everywhere, every day - they don't get it

For some with disabilities access to a building means that they can not be represented because they literally can't get in the building!

Recent cuts (particularly for those with disabilities) has had a bit impact on access - for many it is just not there.

The leg work that you have to do to as a disabled person to get to a show or get in the building is totally disproportionate to the work the venue/producers need to do - attendee mentioned 6hrs of phone calls and emailing to get themselves what they needed to see a West End show.

The word 'disruption' is linked to protest and yet when there are festivals that are in 'protest' around lack of representation -e.g. a LGBTIA festival one attendee said they won't go to things like this because they know it is all going to be issue based.

If a show is representing a particular lived experience or issue you would expect it to be led by that person.

There is an interest in people like ourselves so we want to shout about those shows, but also want work that isn't issue based that we can shout about too

You can feel when a show hasn't had the input of someone with that lived experience and it can just reinforce stereotypes or wreck otherwise really good writing - e.g. using a disabled character purely as a plot device or to make it more 'interesting'

People are so hungry for representation that they will put up with a lot of shit work.

Critics often talk about 'access over excellence' in reviews which is deeply unhelpful.

The 'traditional' informs rules around behaviour in in theatres which is often excluding.

People are moving away from theatre because of the 'traditional' - "it is not a space for me"

Access should be an assumption not an exception - ALL performances should be relaxed and then provide 'uptight' performances where everyone can book in to sit quietly and behave :o)

Rhetoric about equality is problematic.

Language around disability (identity first language) is also problematic - e.g. wheelchair bound, *the* disabled (speaker's stress), suffering from...

Lack of access to a building can compound disability if navigation of a space is poor.

There is often a lazy and defeatist attitude when making work to include actors with disabilities - that is will be expensive, too much work, too challenging - the assumption that it is too expensive is particularly short-sighted because a disabled artist may have access to resources already to support them.

Making the rehearsal room accessible to all - including dyslexia - note to the powers that be... signage should be in familiar terms so it is easy for dyslexic attendees to read e.g. cubicle instead of toilet or something more usual.

There was big criticism of shows that appropriate communities stories and then don't make them accessible. e.g. West End show Braille was a show about visual impairment but had NO AUDIO DESCRIBED PERFORMANCES!!!! (grrrrr)

Braille also did not use any visually impaired actors - the response from the producers that a/ there weren't any musically trained VI actors and b/ a musical theatre show would be too challenging to have VI actors - a show with a huge West End budget.... (double grrrrrr)

Major VI charities promoted Braille despite all of the above - highlighted that often gatekeepers are not in theatre but also in 3rd sector orgs because of the 'charity' legacy.

- Good allyship is v important; build up a group of people who are woke/educated.

- Show solidarity with fellow artists, not just within the self-identifying group - (if you are not sure how to do this check out the 'flowchart of allyship' from the session on diverse people demonstrating 'isms')

- become a critic

- encourage and educate others - blogs, editorials etc

- find out who your press and media allies are and SHARE THEM WITH YOUR FELLOW ARTISTS - who do you trust to get the work out?

- on good authority we are assured that formal complaints about shows ALWAYS get a response from a theatre

- protest. Call out shows regularly and often. Encourage audiences to do the same - educate them about problematic representation

- don't always leave it to the self-representing artist to fix the cultural landscape; engage with them to find out how you can advocate, call out, support (again see flowchart of allyship or just ask!)

-Report back to industry bodies; Arts council, Equity, ITC, BECTU, SOLT, Act for Change, SDUK consistently

- join a board as a trustee or board member and advocate - or encourage someone else if you can't

- show absolute intolerance for work that has poor casting, non-representation, problematic choices, non-accessibility and *tell them you are doing so and why*

- find multiple vehicles for protest and calling-out; engage other groups/orgs to do work with you

- put self-representing artists at the forefront of the process - either as writers, directors, performers or as meaningful collaborators - they are the experts at their own lived experiences not you.
- make sure that the work you make is accessible to the audience you want e.g. if it is about being visually impaired then make sure it is audio described!
- look at reclaiming traditional characters in the cannon and re-frame the narrative and disrupt who gets to play those characters e.g. the production of 'Not I' with Jess Thom
- look for lived experience within the cannon e.g. Richard III or as above
- work on 'reparative dramaturgy' - reclaiming narrative for yourself
- make sure your rehearsal room is accessible. DiverseCity do brilliant courses on this
- Does your marketing honestly reflect who you are representing and/or content?
- make accessibility complete; part of your on-going everyday practise - put the principles into practise

I was doing frantic note-taking so please do let me know if I have missed or mis-represented anything - or if you have anything to add or want to take further action - my email is [email protected] and my company is @TheThelmas

Thank you for your amazing contributions!