Yesterday at The UK Touring Symposium disability in theatre (or more specifically, on stage) was one of the hot topics of the afternoon. This is clearly an issue which is gaining momentum in the industry and one that every theatre maker should be aware of as it’s important that the diversity in the world is reflected in our media.

You are invited to a book launch on this very topic with Jonathan Meth (Project Dramaturg, Crossing The Line, Disability Research Centre, Goldsmiths and Expert Adviser to Ambitious About Autism) who I’ll leave to introduce the event…


Theatres of Learning Disability: Good, Bad or Plain Ugly? (Palgrave 2015) is the first in-depth critical examination of theatre involving the collaboration of learning disabled artists. This new book challenges academics and theatre makers to rethink what theatre can be.

To launch the book, its author, Dr Matt Hargrave (Northumbria University) will be in conversation with myself  and artist Jez Colborne (Mind the Gap) on Tuesday evening:

22nd March 5:30pm – 7.30pm

George Wood Theatre, Goldsmiths,

University of London, Lewisham Way,

London SE14 6NW

All welcome

Get a free ticket

About the book

This is the first book to focus exclusively on theatre and learning disability as theatre – rather than advocacy or therapy. Matt Hargrave provocatively realigns many of the (hitherto unvoiced) assumptions that underpin such practices, and opens up a new set of critical questions. Stemming from a close engagement with the work of several very different theatre companies – including Mind the Gap (UK); Back to Back (Australia) – and unique solo artists such as Jez Colborne, this book shifts the emphasis from questions of social benefit towards a genuine engagement with aesthetic judgement. Hargrave examines the rich variety of contemporary theatrical practices in this field and spans a wide range of forms such as site specific, naturalistic and autobiographical performance. The book examines ways in which the learning disabled performer might be read on stage, and the ways in which s/he might disturb assumptions, not least about what acting or artistic authorship is

‘Matt Hargrave’s new book provides an outstanding overview and in-depth analysis of the different theatres of learning disability. It demonstrates an acute sensitivity to the social, political and aesthetic questions raised by practitioners of what has emerged as an important area of contemporary theatre and performance. Theatres of Learning Disability pushes the boundaries of the field and asks the difficult questions about how we discuss and value the artistry of actors, creators and participants.’

– James Thompson, University of Manchester, UK


Disability Research Centre at Goldsmiths (DRC)

The launch is being hosted by the Disability Research Centre at Goldsmiths. The DRC is characterised by a diversity of innovative research related to disability and society. The DRC actively promotes the rights of disabled people, and undertakes research that highlights the endemic disablism within society, which is evident in the socio-institutional make up of society, and through social and cultural representations and practices.

The distinctiveness of the DRC, in comparison with other such centres in the UK, is that it neither subscribes to a social model of disability nor to a medical one, but rather is committed to developing theory and scholarship out of the impasse that each represents by exploring new theoretical departures and modes of inquiry.

In this respect, the DRC will build upon the theoretical diversity at Goldsmiths, ranging from feminist cultural theory to STS, Marxism and post-colonialism, and be open to different lines of inquiry that enable innovative ideas to emerge.


Crossing The Line

The book launch is also part of a wider Project

Crossing The Line is a project of the co-operative partnership of 3 European theatre companies: all leaders in the field of working with learning disabled artists. The partners are Moomsteatern in Malmo, Sweden; Compagnie de L’Oiseau Mouche in Roubaix, France and Mind The Gap in Bradford, UK.

Artistically led and committed to meeting the new challenges of producing and touring theatre made by learning disabled and non-disabled theatre makers, Crossing The Line allows the three companies to bring their artists together to learn from and with each other; engage with creative and audience development processes; develop connections with a wider network of European theatre companies with a focus on learning disabled artists; and create 3 new productions – culminating in a showcase festival in Roubaix in January 2017.

Crossing The Line has been made possible thanks to a grant of €200,000 to deliver this two year small scale co-operation project from the EU Creative Europe fund.


Get a free ticket

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