I’m in that pre-adventure terror haze. And I am about to have an adventure. I’ve been lucky enough to be selected by the British Council Canada and Directors Lab North (Toronto, Canada) to attend a 28 strong, 10-day theatre directors laboratory. 28 artistic directors from all over the world and I am one of 6 UK directors attending, all bringing different technical and philosophical approaches to theatre.
I’ve never been to Canada (though is has long been a dream) and I haven’t met any of the other directors before. As far as I know, none of the other directors are self-identifying disabled people – although I will obviously do my research to check out the fellow crip-stats and report back in my return blog. It’s a very exciting opportunity – we’ll be attending workshops, talks, presentations, an arts festival, theatre shows, art form and critique discussions, some us are leading sessions and there is a mysterious playwrights project so there is going to be lots of learning, exchanging and informing. It’s not often to be afforded the time and space for professional and creative development, so this feels like a real luxury.
And it’s quite daunting. Wondering where I’ll fit, are my/our stories and aesthetics interesting to this new audience, and will it be accessible and comfortable. I’m reassured to note that many of the other directors are all from diverse backgrounds – many of us are probably striving to ensure that amazing stories of often hidden people and cultures are given a place in our flagship theatres. And it’s clear that within so-called ‘diversity’ there is much innovation in the way that we reach and engage audiences, informing our practice. I’m looking forward to discussions in this area, and how and why we make theatre relevant in the 21st century in the midst of a technical and digital revolution. What is it about a live exchange that gives theatre its rich power and how does that translate in the modern world?
Practitioners attending are actively engaged in bringing about increased understanding, and social and cultural change, so I know there will be many notes and experiences to share. Everyone will bring a different voice, sharing practice and both introducing and learning new techniques and practices. And we will inevitably become an international network of practitioners – what a brilliant opportunity.
Oh and as for access, so far the British Council and the organisers of the Lab could not have done more to meet my access requirements…from the every-day things, to the extent of spotting that one of the outdoor festival events available to us is standing only and are solution seeking rather than saying ‘oh sorry, you can’t go to that one’. So far, so good. If I had time to pinch myself I would, but things need crossing off these lists and that empty suitcase is staring at me. I’ll keep you posted.