What is all-inclusive theatre and how do we retain quality?

Eleanor Rudd, 26 September 2012

What is the name of the person who called the session?


Who attended the session?

Ellie, then later joined by Lee

Lee said 'Are you on your own talking about being inclusive? and i was no longer on my own considering it…

All inclusive theatre is theatre which is accessible, for anyone and everyone, not limited by physical ability, language, background etc. It is about what each individual can bring to the table, celebrating difference and pushing limitations and abilities to the max.

Unfortunately, despite having both worked inclusivley for several companies, sometimes all-inclusive theatre can be considered lower, less meaningful and has a stigma of not being at the same professional level as other work. Their value and credibility is questioned. Granted, some companies are not successful in being all-inclusive even when it is their aim, some are definitely exclusive, elitist and not open. I do however find it very difficult that all-inclusive work is held in this regard with companies like CandoCo, ChickenShed and with the success of this recent paralympics. Perhaps the success of the paralympics may open some peoples eyes and allow them to now consider this work in a different context. Time will tell.

All inclusive is a mentality, not just a method. The method of working comes from the mentality, that joint belief that everyone involved has in the enabling methodology and the power it has for them and their audiences.

Authenticity is called into question - who is it for? who is making it? who is producing it? why are they? are they telling a story written by someone else many years ago or are they telling their own stories? are they telling an old story through their stories?

The key to all inclusive theatre is to learn from the people you are workign with, what they offer you, finding new ways of working for that particular project/thing for that moment of time. A different method and idea and different group of people will need to have a different way of working too. Much like what the guy said at the start of this really. that combination of things at that time is important and it is necessary to believe that for all inclusivity.

Often the difficulty is perhaps that the leaders are not enabled with the knowledge to enable? Perhaps they are not experienced working in this manner, or choose not to?

With regards to additional needs or different languages, if you can speak a different language can you still work with them? for me the answer is yes, but for Lee it might not.

It is about creating work with them, for them, not just for them. Work which reflects their world and is relevent to them. it will therefore be relevent to their audience because they are part of it.

It is about those ‘marginalised groups’ (i hate the fact i am using that term) driving the work, rather than just joining in ‘mainstream’ work, sometimes tucked into the background if truth be told. It is about pushing them to perform to the best of their abilities but not necesserily comparing them to ‘mainstream’ - they are stars just as much as the child going to drama school!! I will never forget the day that I saw DV8's cost of living and the amazing dancer who's body is his arms and torso, but he was an incredible dancer…It is about giving them the same opportunities and same environments to work in and thrive in, just as creative and supportive as an ‘everage’ youth theatre or theatre company. Participants in all inclusive theatre are still important and deserve to still create QUALITY work that they can be proud of.

Lee ends it saying 'so it was still only us two working on inclusive theatre…

Apologies for spellings and grammar! need to go run a young person group!


Theatre, Theatre Company, Inclusive, inclusive, enable, youth theatre, Youth Theatre, culture, Culture, paralympics, theatre, all-inclusive, theatre company