15 - 16 January 2013

Devoted And Disgruntled: Lets Talk About Access

Unicorn Theatre


I’m Lisa Hammond, I have a disability and I've been an actress for donkey's years. Despite clearly being still young, fresh and devoted (!), I also get incredibly disgruntled about the issues surrounding being disabled in this industry.  Over the years I have lost count of the conferences, keynote speeches, workshops, networking days and meetings I’ve attended to talk about the subject of disability in theatre and the media: How to make the industry more accessible… changing the industry…disability arts…funny ha ha or funny scary-disability…etc. etc. More often than not I come out of these events just wanting to kill myself...Why?

1.    They are so boring.

2.    It feels like a perpetual loop of going every year, talking about the same things and nothing changes.

3.    The agenda is set by someone who has to be seen to be running the event not someone who is actually interested or passionate about the subject.

4.    They are so short that it feels pressured: "Change the landscape of disability in the industry, you have one hour...go!"

5.    They make me feel like I'm really bitter and angry, because every new person leading these events wants you to talk about the future, not learn from the past so you feel like you are constantly starting again.

Urgh. That’s why! Any of those feel familiar to you? If they are I want to invite you to this event because it's very different.

Devoted and Disgruntled: let’s really talk about access will be a two day event using Open Space Technology. For people who don't know what that is:

a) Google it

b) I’m no bloody expert but the best thing about it is that whatever you want to talk about or any issues that you have WILL get talked about if you want them to be.

So here's a possible few questions / provocations for you:

Disabled and Deaf artists and companies: Do you want ‘equal rights’ in the theatre world? Do you want access both creative and physical? Do you want a theatre critic to look at your work and be honest instead of talking about you or the performers’ bodies? Do you really want to be on a level playing field with non-disabled companies and actors and possibly lose your funding or the job because you aren't as good as them? Do you want to be more than a box that's ticked?  Do you want an audience to applaud you just because you've managed to get out of the house and put a show on? Do you want to stop preaching to the converted?  Do you want the part you play not to just to be about the diversity "trip" the director is on?  Do you want more support?  Or less? Does the term "Disability Arts" help or hinder us? What if anything is holding us / you back from entering the mainstream?

Do you want to talk about any or all of these things?  Then don't fight it! - get your ass to this event and let’s mix it up!!

By the way ‘normal’ people are welcome too!  (no discrimination here)

I hope to see you all there!


Hello. My name is Kirsty Hoyle and I'm the Access Manager for the Unicorn Theatre, Society of London Theatre and the Theatrical Management Association. I am excited by the questions Lisa has posed and am really pleased that we can welcome everyone to the Unicorn to try and get to grips with some of these issues.

Some of the questions buzzing around my head are:

·      Are disabled theatre-makers over-protective and over-protected?

·      As an actor with an impairment will you always be a ‘disabled actor’?

·      ‘Cripping up’ – should roles featuring disabled people only be played by disabled actors? – and does this apply to learning disabled actors?

·      Does the lack of opportunities for disabled actors mean they can’t compete in the open market – is disability arts their only option?

·      In disability arts are the opinions of the non-disabled relevant?

I am passionate about the creative benefits of increasing access and equality which is why I want to invite you to work in Open Space on these complex and sensitive questions.  Whether you are disabled or not, if you care about the future we need your voice as part of this discussion so please come and join us.


Booking for this event has now closed.