Between 2018 – 2020, A Different Way was a project led by Daryl Beeton Productions, with core partners Half Moon Theatre, Spark Arts for Children, New Wolsey Theatre and Mimbre with supporting partners Graeae Theatre Company, Attenborough Arts Centre and TYA UK, to support the growth of inclusive theatre for young audiences. The entire process is being evaluated by Danny Braverman, Lecturer at Goldsmiths University of London.
Following the ideology of ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’, it aimed to build knowledge of how to create work with, not for, young Disabled people. A Different Way saw the company research and develop 3 new shows for different age groups, delving into the nuances of access and inclusion in meaningful and entertaining ways.
“I’ve worked in Theatre for Young Audiences for a few years now (insert joke about how old I am here) and it is apparent to me that representation of Disabled people is an issue. There just aren’t that many Disabled people involved with the writing, production and touring of quality creative new theatre for young people. We want to change that.” Daryl Beeton
Daryl Beeton Productions took a 360° approach to this ‘show and tell’ project, tackling access, representation and inclusion on a number of levels, beginning with including young Disabled people in the creation of new work. The voices, stories and experiences of young people formed the core of each production. The creative teams ran participatory workshops with the different age groups, experimenting with fresh ways of devising and developing themes, language and narratives together.
This was complemented by a commitment to Artist Development, which provided opportunities created for talented Disabled performers, writers, directors and composers to be part of the 3 creative teams.
“I want to be able to share the experience and skills I’ve developed in Theatre for Young Audiences with other Disabled creatives. I want to help wedge open the door, to introduce these exciting artists to this exciting sector. I want us to make original, inventive and authentic work which tells a whole range of different stories led by Disabled people. I want young Disabled people to see themselves and their experiences reflected and represented onstage.”
Then to complete the circle, A Different Way was carefully documented and shared throughout, with a ‘warts and all’ case study accompanying each show which pulled back the curtain on the creative process and share deep insights into the co-production methods used.
We had planned a Symposium to provide opportunities for discussion and debates around the barriers within Theatre for young audiences sector for Disabled led work, as well as an opportunity to see ‘work-in-progress’ showings of the three productions. Unfortunately due to Covid, this was cancelled, so instead we delivered our ‘#ADiffWayToThink The Online Series’
The three R&D shows created during the programme each tackled a different idea linked to inclusion in imaginative ways. We are currently planning their development into full pourable shows. The 3 R&D’s are:
An Unseen World – How do you know if a barrier is there if you can’t see it? A fun new show about (mis)understanding the rules, for ages 3-6
Look Mum, No Hands! – A tender story of friendship, taking risks and developing your independence, for ages 8-12.
Special – Special isn’t your bog standard show, it’s a complete engagement project, working with young people in your community to bring this production to life. It’s a powerful exploration of language, disability and identity for ages 14+
Click HERE to read about all off the work undertaken before on the programme we paused due to Covid-19