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Disability and Accessibility

How can we make every aspect of theatre practice and participation accessible to people of all abilities? Disability aesthetics, accessibility measures for artists and audience members, and work created by artists with disabilities are all covered here. A great place to start is the 2019 series The Future of Theatre is Accessible, curated by Talleri McRae and Mickey Rowe, or you can dive into Unsettling Dramaturgy’s panel Praxis Sessions for Virtual Collaboration: Cripping Practice or videos from the Neurodiversity Matters Conference. To learn more about HowlRound’s goals and standards for accessibility, you can go here.

The Latest

The Theatre Communications Group (TCG) National Conference
Video
The Theatre Communications Group (TCG) National Conference
Panels and Conversations about the State of American Theatre
Thursday 20 June to Saturday 22 June 2024
Chicago, IL
Gender, Disability, Transmedia, and Balkan Folklore
Essay
Gender, Disability, Transmedia, and Balkan Folklore
by Sophie Sagan-Gutherz
10 June 2024
Panel: Consultants, Advocates, and Coordinators
Video
Panel: Consultants, Advocates, and Coordinators
Collaborating with Specialists on Stage and Screen
Wednesday 5 June 2024
United States
event poster for theatre communications group national conference chicago 2024.
The Theatre Communications Group (TCG) National Conference
Video

The Theatre Communications Group (TCG) National Conference

Panels and Conversations about the State of American Theatre

Thursday 20 June to Saturday 22 June 2024
Chicago, IL

The TCG National Conference is one of the largest nationwide gatherings of the not-for-profit theatre community. TCG has been gathering folks this way since 1976 and each year, the National Conference creates space for theatre practitioners across the globe to get inspired, learn from one another, and build toward collective action. It’s also been a way for TCG and the field to get intimately familiar with theatre communities around the country, and to channel the particular energy of their artists.

Two figures in abstract red and black costumes dance on stage.
Gender, Disability, Transmedia, and Balkan Folklore
Essay

Gender, Disability, Transmedia, and Balkan Folklore

10 June 2024

Sophie Sagan-Gutherz shares about Kat Mustatea’s ielele, a show that uses a unique instrument called the BodyMouth to sound out histories of the ielele, a genderless creature in Balkan folklore. Sophie highlights how this show’s use of technology illuminates connections between disability and transgression of binary gender.

event poster for consultants advocates and coordinates panel.
Panel: Consultants, Advocates, and Coordinators
Video

Panel: Consultants, Advocates, and Coordinators

Collaborating with Specialists on Stage and Screen

Wednesday 5 June 2024
United States

The panel is facilitated by Brooke M. Haney and features queer leaders in the fields of intimacy direction and coordination, gender and cultural consulting, mental health, and disability advocacy, and more. 

A man in a red shirt stands on stage with a microphone.
Collaborating and Confronting the Able-Bodied Gaze in Herein Lies the Truth 
Essay

Collaborating and Confronting the Able-Bodied Gaze in Herein Lies the Truth 

28 May 2024

Rob Silverman Ascher chronicles the collaboration between Aaron Pang, a non-fiction storyteller with no formal theatrical training, and Johanna Kasimow, a director with a background in devising and physical theatre, on Herein Lies the Truth: Pang’s story that centers around sex and disability and confronts able-bodied expectations of what a disabled performer ought to share.

Two people in stage blacks wearing masks stand backstage.
Challenging the COVID Status Quo
Essay

Challenging the COVID Status Quo

29 April 2024

Ezra Tozian, Claudia Alick, and Jon Jon Johnson discuss the need to challenge the status quo of ignoring COVID within the theatre industry and the impact that the lack of care is having on them and other disabled theatremakers. 

poster image for the 2024 cultural mobility forum in wales.
Cultural Mobility Forum 2024
Video

Cultural Mobility Forum 2024

Watch the livestream of the third Cultural Mobility Forum hosted by On the Move member Wales Arts International.

Thursday 25 April 2024

On Thursday, 25 April, and Friday, 26 April, the third Cultural Mobility Forum is hosted by On the Move member Wales Arts International in Caernarfon, Wales and live streamed by HowlRound. As part of its multiannual program co-funded by the European Union, each year On the Move proposes a Cultural Mobility Forum to collectively investigate international artistic and cultural mobility trends.

A woman performs in front of audience members wearing masks.
We Can’t Build an Equitable Theatre While Ignoring COVID
Essay

We Can’t Build an Equitable Theatre While Ignoring COVID

21 March 2024

Taylor Leigh Lamb argues that building the equitable theatre industry requires robust COVID precautions with steps like masking, air filtration, and advocacy within our theatrical spaces.

The International Mobility of Disabled Artists and Culture Professionals Event Poster.
The International Mobility of Disabled Artists and Culture Professionals
Video

The International Mobility of Disabled Artists and Culture Professionals

Join this webinar to collectively investigate international artistic and cultural mobility.

Tuesday 12 March 2024
Europe

For this Cultural Mobility Webinar, On the Move builds upon the two large-scale studies it carried out as part of the EU funded project Europe Beyond Access, Time to Act: How Lack of Knowledge in the Cultural Sector Creates Barriers for Disabled Artists and Audiences and Time to Act: Two Years On, Data-led Insights on Performing Arts and Disability in Europe.

A promotional graphic for Theatre Tech Talks.
Aerial Performance in a Wheelchair 
Podcast

Aerial Performance in a Wheelchair 

7 March 2024

Disabled choreographer, dancer, designer, engineer, and founding member of Kinetic Light Laurel Lawson talks about performing aerially in a wheelchair, accessibility as its own artform rather than an add-on, and their app Audimance which includes haptic interpretation and sensory modulation.

Two actors stand onstange, one in a pink dress and the other in a t-shirt using a cane.
Autistic Artists Should Be Telling Autistic Stories
Essay

Autistic Artists Should Be Telling Autistic Stories

12 February 2024

Megan Lummus shares her experience as the first openly autistic director to direct a professional production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. She explores why it is important to have autistic artists taking the lead on sharing autistic stories, and what theatremakers can do to make sure productions are accessible. 

Three performers in chicken suits during a performance.
The Amateur Botanist Talks Merrily Into the Night: Some Notes on Neurodivergent Performance (and How to Make It)
Essay

The Amateur Botanist Talks Merrily Into the Night: Some Notes on Neurodivergent Performance (and How to Make It)

12 December 2023

How might neurodivergent adults like to experience theatre? Taking this question as his starting point, Rob Onorato explores an approach to performance that embraces elements of neurodivergence as catalysts for formal innovation.

A group of actors perform a fight onstage.
How Pay As You Are Changed Theater Mu
Essay

How Pay As You Are Changed Theater Mu

27 November 2023

Theater Mu managing director Anh Thu T. Pham and development director Wesley Mouri discuss the ideology behind the theater’s Pay As You Are program, how it works, and what impact it’s having on the theatre six years after its implementation.

Inclusive theatre festival event poster.
8th Annual Inclusive Theatre Festival (ITF)
Video

8th Annual Inclusive Theatre Festival (ITF)

A Weekend-long Conference Celebrating the Strides Being Made in Inclusive and Accessible Theatre

Saturday 11 November 2023
Evanston, Illinois

Seesaw Theatre Presents: the 8th Annual Inclusive Theatre Festival (ITF)! This event is a weekend-long conference celebrating the strides being made in inclusive and accessible theatre. ITF aims to bring together theatre artists and practitioners from across the country, giving us all the chance to learn about the amazing work being done and how we can also improve our own work while supporting marginalized communities. The conference is intended not only for theatre artists (students and professionals alike), but also for the disability community and their families, educators working with autistic and otherwise disabled individuals, and truly anyone interested in this ever-expanding and heartwarming field of inclusive theatre.

A large group of people standing in a circle on a stage with one person crouched in the center.
An Approach to Content Warnings in the Theatre Classroom
Essay

An Approach to Content Warnings in the Theatre Classroom

23 October 2023

Theatre educator Sofia Lindgren Galloway explores the complicated question of whether one should use content warnings when teaching theatre, and offers an approach for others to consider.

Two actors dressed as doctors lay down and lift the legs of an actor dressed as a patient.
Going “Down to the Roots” to find Healing Through Theatre
Essay

Going “Down to the Roots” to find Healing Through Theatre

31 August 2023

Keelin Sanz discusses the development of WOMI, which she created to explore the healing capacity of art. By rooting WOMI in the work of choreographer Anna Halprin and memoirist Sarah Ramey, Sanz crafted a performance that worked to a mend the relationship between body and sense of self for those with chronic illnesses.

Gender Euphoria teaser image with guest headshot.
Making Space for Self-Authorship through Audio Description
Podcast

Making Space for Self-Authorship through Audio Description

With Guests H. May and Liz Thomson

26 July 2023

Host Nicolas Shannon Savard, Dr. H. May, and Dr. Liz Thomson discuss the creative and collaborative possibilities that emerge when audio description (AD) is made an integral part of the artistic process, as opposed to solely an accommodation for individual audience members. They critique traditional models of AD that demand objectivity and propose alternative approaches that embrace self-determination, specificity of lived experience, and universal design.

A woman seated in a wheelchair speaks passionately to a man squatting in front of her.
Playwright Caregivers
Essay

Playwright Caregivers

6 July 2023

Playwrights Carlyle Brown, Elaine Romero, and Catherine Filloux come together to discuss their experiences as working theatre artists who also act as caregivers to their spouses.

Gender Euphoria teaser image featuring guest profile images.
Queer-Trans Intimacy: One Foot in the Academy and the Other in the Nightclub
Podcast

Queer-Trans Intimacy: One Foot in the Academy and the Other in the Nightclub

With Guests Raja Benz and Joy Brooke Fairfield

5 July 2023

Nicolas Shannon asks Joy Brooke Fairfield and Raja Benz how their intimacy work is informed by queer theory and critical theory. Their conversation bounces between queer of color theory, decolonial theory, disability theory, and the dim glow of the night club; between past, present, and future; between the ideas they’re sure of and the ones they’re working out in real time. Bonus! It comes with dozens of recommended readings.

A woman sitting outside on a scooter in front of a flowering tree.
Taking Care: Supporting Delegates with Invisible Disabilities at Festivals and Showcases
Essay

Taking Care: Supporting Delegates with Invisible Disabilities at Festivals and Showcases

15 May 2023

Second Hand Dance embarked upon research on support for artists with access needs after artistic director Rosie Heafford had to pull out of a festival that did not provide sufficient accommodations for her invisible disability. She shares takeaways from that research in the form of actionable steps that festivals, showcases, and industry events can implement.

Illustration of several different pairs of people holding hands with each other.
Our Trauma Twin Siblings: Building Creative Spaces for Queer and Trans Tamil Community as Teardrop Collective
Essay

Our Trauma Twin Siblings: Building Creative Spaces for Queer and Trans Tamil Community as Teardrop Collective

31 March 2023

Hari Somaskantha and Gitanjali exchange letters discussing their work with Teardrop Collective, a Toronto-based group that centers stories of queer, trans, Deaf, and hearing people of Tamil, Sri Lankan, and South Asian descent.

A performer wearing black and a mask standing on top of a box with arms in the air.
Movement Is for Every Body
Essay

Movement Is for Every Body

23 March 2023

Theatre artist and educator Katie Butler discusses the need to recalibrate movement practice toward accessibility and body autonomy, and shares her own experience navigating changes in her body’s abilities.

Two performers in extravagant costumes stand on either side of a performer with both arms extended at their side.
An Artist’s Take on Disability Creativity with David Salsbery Fry
Essay

An Artist’s Take on Disability Creativity with David Salsbery Fry

22 February 2023

David Salsbery Fry’s career in opera shifted dramatically when he publicly disclosed his disability in 2015. In this candid discussion with Marianna Mott Newirth and Gregory Moomjy, co-founders of New York City’s first disability-affirmative opera company, he details his experiences navigating an industry that has not made itself fully accessible or welcoming to artists with disabilities.

A large group of people are seated in front of a brick wall, facing the camera.
Disability Creativity in Opera
Essay

Disability Creativity in Opera

21 February 2023

Gregory Moomjy and Marianna Mott Newirth share their approach to creating disability-affirmative opera productions in which disability artistry flourishes.

Critical Stages in Malawian Contemporary Theatre teaser image with the title at the top and a picture of the guest in the middle.
Dance for Change
Podcast

Dance for Change

A Conversation with Robert Magasa

26 October 2022

Robert Magasa is an experienced dancer, choreographer, and actor who trained in Zimbabwe and now runs UjeNi Dance Ensemble Theatre in Malawi. In this interview, Magasa discusses his career, the economics of producing theatre in Malawi, and his current work to bring a combination of traditional and Afro contemporary dance to schoolchildren in Malawi.

A performer in a wheelchair suspended in midair by a wire.
Moving from Disability Visibility to Disability Artistry
Essay

Moving from Disability Visibility to Disability Artistry

20 October 2022

Morgan Skolnik argues for theatre that goes beyond physical accessibility and disability representation to actively center disabled artists and the creative potential the disability community holds.

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