We Live By the Sea, 59E59

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by guest critic Steven Strauss

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.

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Our Country’s Good, Theatre Royal Stratford East

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by an anonymous guest critic

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.

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The Tin Soldier, Festival Theatre Edinburgh

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by guest critic Liam Rees

Birds of Paradise Theatre Company’s The Tin Soldier is a charming and inclusive alternative to the traditional pantomime. As a company specialising in making work with disabled people, it makes sense for the company to have chosen to adapt Hans Christian Andersen’s story as it’s one of the few children’s stories to feature a disabled protagonist.

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35 Amici Drive, Lyric Hammersmith

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Council block 35 Amici Drive and the pub attached to it are earmarked for demolition. Luxury flats and commercial retail units will replace it, and plans to rehouse current residents are vague. Money-grubbing developers and local counsellors push for “positive change” but those who live there are having none of it.

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Home, Ovalhouse

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Scarlet and Olive were left behind when the evacuation transport left their town without them. A dust storm has rendered their home a foreign landscape. They have five days until the transport will return to collect any stragglers, and news is due over the radio at any time between now the then. The resourceful young women must work together to find water and build a shelter so they can survive until someone comes back to get them, and the audience of people with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD) is there to help.

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The Braille Legacy, Charing Cross Theatre

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Discovery of the evening: Louis Braille was a child when he developed the alphabet of raised dots into the writing still used by blind and visually impaired people around the world today. It’s an especially impressive feat considering the run down and under-resourced institution he attended, Institut National des Jeunes Aveugles in Paris. However, the prevalent hostile attitude towards disabled people was a constant obstacle towards the system’s adoption; even the belief that blind people could be academically educated was radical at the time.

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