Integrating accessibility and disassembling unconscious ableism in the performing arts industry
Posted on: Fri 12 May 2023
When watching someone deliver a standout performance as a disabled character either in a mainstream or independent theatre production, artwork and/or project, you wouldn’t expect to then find out that depiction or portrayal was performed by a non-disabled person. Sadly, that is how unconscious ableism infiltrates and penetrates into the brains of those in charge of overseeing these works that are narrating stories about the lived experiences of people with disabilities.
In many stage plays for example, the conceptual, creative, development and planning processes of telling authentic and realistic narratives about disabled characters through dancing, singing and/or acting, is often stifled and restricted by those who falsely assume that casting a disabled artist or performer would lessen the overall quality of the aesthetic appeal with how that character is suppose to be depicted and portrayed from the point of view of a producer or director.
Kelly Vincent, who is an actor, writer and playwright and also the Co-Founder and Creative Director of True Ability, an ensemble group of performing artists living with various disabilities in Adelaide, South Australia, strongly argues that integrating accessibility into all pieces of performing art forms including Auslan is essential in making those productions, artworks and/or projects more inclined towards disassembling ableist stereotypes and preconceptions. Vincent spoke with De-Stigmatised‘s Jarad McLoughlin about what can be achieved in convincing mainstream and independent theatre companies to hire, recruit and cast more disabled people to produce and perform future disability-led theatrical works.
Produced by Jarad McLoughlin
Photo courtesy of Tony Virgo