From a scream to a whisper

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Every actor knows that shouting on stage only works in tiny doses but that speaking quietly, with conviction, makes an audience lean in…and listen.

This weeks’ Arts Council and British Council supported NO BOUNDARIES conference, live-linked between Hull Truck Theatre and Home in Manchester was a gathering of the UK cultural clan.

The great, the good and the doing it anyway to the best of their ability sat in the two auditoria, in front of a heady mix of opinion, reflection and prophecy delivered rapid fire, in 10 minute blocks, by a diverse range of speakers. 

Provocations from dynamic artists, producers, shapers and thinkers chewed over the indigestible Brexit cud, and break out groups wrestled with challenges for the arts around identity, collaboration, diversity and it’s birth mother- inclusion- brought giddily out of the Ashram on the hill and back into town-  a repositioning generally viewed as a far better active aim- after all it’s very possible to be diverse without including anyone in anything, least of all decision-making.

The symposium highlighted disability-focused theatre as a political mechanism and platform, powerfully articulated by the extraordinary Jess Thom.

The Separate Doors 2 project ignites at RADA in London next week and the NO BOUNDARIES symposium served as a timely reminder of the many different ways people are fighting the battle for disability representation in theatre.

Complementing the polemic charge, Separate Doors 2 aims to find routes for actors with moderate learning disabilities, less equipped to fight verbal battles, to take their place on stages, in stories crafted to move, to shift perception, assumption and prejudice via imagination and analogy.

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It’s hoped that by finding a place for exceptional actors with learning disabilities on main stages, in TV and film, collaborating with exceptional writers and directors, in drama and comedy that appeals to general audiences that the rudderless dark sailed boat the UK currently drifts along in is guided away from the rocks by warm breezes of knowledge and understanding.

Or at least to be part of that drive for a broad-viewed future.

The artistic integration in high quality theatre programming and making that Separate Doors 2 wants to encourage won’t shout, but it will influence those who need to hear the message, delivering a compelling argument for inclusion to those who can effect change… in a whisper.

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