SQ7: Is it okay for an actor with a learning disability to act on stage alongside a professional non-disabled actor? Does it deliver a complete performance?

The art of acting is not just about showing off one’s own performance. It’s also about playing together, being partners. What is the significance of collaborating on stage with actors who have a learning disability?

Interview with a professional dancer, CZ

AvatarWhat was it like watching actors with and without disabilities performing together on stage?

AvatarFor me it really created the most intense moments of the whole play, it was a very interesting way of expressing things. It felt like it was interesting and functional, that the actors were able to move the plot forward. The most interesting thing for me was the two Creon kings interacting and their ways of expression. That they were actually both expressing the same thing, but each of them in a different way. The actor without a disability was saying it and the other actor, with DS, was expressing it with a wordless speech. That was very moving. That they complemented each other so well. I think that this element can support an actor with a disability a great deal, knowing that they’re not standing there in front of the audience alone, which can probably be uncomfortable, and at the same time it makes both of the actors think more about their surroundings and about working together, even more than actors usually do.

Monologue section:

Well, I’m glad I got a chance to see it. It was rather atypical, very different from a traditional theatre performance. I never imagined how people with disabilities participate in a common activity, such as theatre, because I had never personally met them before.audience member, CZ

When I was reviewing it (Antigone by the Aldente theatre) it wasn’t exactly pleasant. It’s good that the non-disabled actors are there, and they convey the text verbally, which the disabled actors wouldn’t be able to do on their own, but… Especially with Antigone I was quite…unhappy about it, because I thought the (non-disabled) actresses were too intense. I guess it’s also my personal problem with one actress without DS acting a certain way. I sometimes found it too theatrical, and not in a good sense, and when she was standing next to an actress with DS and you see her purity, the acting was just over the top. Sometimes she was too uptight, sometimes she was overacting and all theatrical…Then I saw the Trolls (Teatr21’s production) and I thought it was brilliant, but even there… Not to criticise it, but even there I wondered what would happen if the non-disabled actress didn’t express herself that much in the performance. There was just this one woman without a disability who was kind of the boss of all the actors with disabilities, and although she “ran” it in a really kind way, she was pushing the actors a lot to act a certain way. To act goofy and stuff. And I really wondered how much actors like her are needed there.theatre studies student, CZ

I would expect that they (actors with DS) are given as much independence as they can handle and with which they are still comfortable. At the same time, why should they be all alone out there (on stage)? They’re not alone in this world either, we’re all here together. drama teacher, CZ

I found the group quite disparate, although I didn’t mind the differentness of these particular actors as much as the others. They strike me as people who are not used to being on stage together. I think it’s a group of people very diverse in their expression, in their abilities… drama teacher, CZ

It’s great, as long as all actors get the same opportunity in that space and everyone is represented equally. Then I think it’s great – the representation of equality.Blue Apple Theatre director

I think an actor with no learning disability can work on stage with an actor with a learning disability and it can look terrible if it’s just approached in the wrong way – when there’s no equality; to say, when they are not both creative agents. But sometimes it can be beautiful, mind expanding, life changing…(Blue Apple Theatre director

I have real difficulty continuing to continue talking about disabled people. I think that today’s performance showed me that we have different people playing together with different capabilities, different forms of pronunciation, and we just receive that. If we ask: ‘Okay, who was disabled, who was professional…?’ It’s a mix! They were together and we were just receiving the spectacle. Each person gave me something and I am strongly against recognising something which was given to me as ‘coming from the actor so-called disabled’. All of them are normal.man, PL

Something important happened for me in the topic of representation. I think such moments are very rare to happen. I am very moved by the physical aspect of the actor who plays Polyneikes. After this performance, I don’t have to ask any more if a so-called ‘normal actor’ is allowed to play alongside a person with a disability. It’s great to see this kind of condition shown on stage and that is very truthful for me. It tells the truth about the world and that’s what I want to find in the theatre. lecturer of educational activities from Teatr 21, PL

Today, I saw the show for the second time and I was thinking a lot about partnership on stage because that’s a big part of being an actor – you are a partner for other people on stage. And this is more a question than some specific comment – I was really thinking: ‘How did the 3 actresses playing 1 Antigone together, how did they rehearse? How did they tune one to another today before the show? What rituals do they have before the show to get into one character?’research group lecturer, CZ

Talking about the roles played by multiple actors – the interesting part for me is that I don’t have the feeling that one of them was leading the other. It was playing together – with some tension – but together, not one leading the other. theatre teacher, CZ

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