Even in the current march towards greater representation across the arts for all marginalized communities, people with learning disabilities too often find themselves on the outside always looking in, literally. Though their stories have graced stages and screens throughout the years, they’re often performed by actors not personally afflicted with the depicted disabilities.
Ramps to the Moon’s Our Country’s Good delivers a production that seamlessly integrates actors with and without disabilities to produce excellent all round performances. Originally written by Timberlake Wertenbaker in 1988, it tells the extraordinary true story of a group of convicts in Australia, who in 1797 with the help of an officer, rehearse and perform a play despite the odds being stacked against them due to strong opposition from the other officers at the settlement.
So there used to be this movie theater in New York City that always made me laugh by insisting on including subtitles over movies IN ENGLISH, albeit those with heavy accents. Let’s just say that this multiplex’s average clientele was of a certain age, and their diminished hearing required some help in understanding strong dialects of any kind from every corner of the world.
Before the actual show of Eurohouse begins, Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutas pitch a comfortable, connected atmosphere between them and audience of the Shoreditch Town Hall. They seem sincerely interested to know where we have all come from, they excuse the DIY nature of the show as Bert will be controlling the lights and sounds, and they make us all hold hands with each other. This feels like a safe, secure space.
There can’t be anything more theatrical than Eurovision, right? Well actually MAD Trust’s West End Eurovision is back, combining big musicals with everyone’s favourite European (ish) song contest, and it’s as wonderfully stagey as you’d imagine.
Groupe Bekkrell at CircusFest 2018 presents four women with a climbing rope, teeter board, tight rope, Chinese pole and one energetic stage hand. Four women dressed in tweed and a stage rigged with lights directly at its edge sit tiny as a nucleus within the vast empty dome of the interior of The Roundhouse. Despite the booming base and explosive soundtrack, the work has a gentle expansive presence that dwarfs its surroundings by the time it comes to an end.
All is not as tranquil as it seems on a quiet shallow of the Gulf of Mexico – Kendra and Betty sit on a boat one afternoon ostensibly to fish, but in reality to thrash out their relationship. As night sets in, they begin to wonder whether they can ever escape where they have ended up.
Oily Cart has been producing immersive theatre since long before the current craze became so popular the world over.
This company specializes in creating pieces for the very young and kids on the autism spectrum. And thanks to Lincoln Center’s hopefully-inaugural Big Umbrella Festival — the first of its kind revolved entirely around such audiences — this New Yorker was finally provided an opportunity to experience their work in person.
New York’s Lincoln Center invited UK-based Oily Cart to be one of three theatres from outside the US to perform at the Big Umbrella Festival, the first of its kind dedicated to such audiences.
In addition to Oily Cart’s Light Show, the one-month festival includes other one-off events, symposiums, and professional development opportunities for artists, arts professionals, presenters, and audience members interested in expanding the theatrical spotlight on this shamefully under-served community.
Simply put, major theatres around the world should really be funding such festivals all the time. To find out more about the process of bringing the Big Umbrella Festival to life, we interviewed Peg Schuler-Armstrong, the Director of Programming and Production for Lincoln Center Education, the organizers of the festival.