Why Theatre?
Virtual Theatre of Neurodiversity

In mid-March 2020 the world as we knew it completely changed, as a global pandemic took hold and suddenly we were confined to our homes. The one thing keeping us connected became the virtual world. As physical theatre spaces closed down theatre found a place in our living rooms and on our screens. Artists responded immediately, knowing in isolation we needed them more than ever, to remind us of our existence and of our purpose, to tell stories so we are heard and seen, and keep us connected to one another. We learned that stages exist in our living rooms and that theatre, performance and storytelling were never things that lived outside of us but a part of our embodied experience and knowledge.

We, at Thatz Showbiz, set the stage for a Theatre of Neurodiversity where performers with intellectual disabilities are able to access the stories that have been stifled and stolen and co-opted from them in the pre-pandemic world, the one that tried to move on without them. But in the midst of the pandemic those assistive devices and technologies invented by and for people with disabilities have become the backbone for all of our work and livelihood. The space is our homes, the place is the one we virtually build together and there is plenty of time for us to play, discover and create the theatre we always deserved. It is theatre of access, theatre of community, theatre of social justice and Theatre of Neurodiversity.

Here’s what we’ve been creating, what we’ve learned so far and tips and concrete exercises to help others create and spread the possibilities of Virtual Theatre of Neurodiversity.

A Workbook for Educators, Facilitators and Performers with Disabilities

Mr. Rabbit’s Gotta Sing! A Musical by Callum Barringer

A Conversation with Callum Barringer and his Playwright mentor Dave Osmundsen

“I Am Canadian” a performance in partnership with Creating Alternatives

A Radical Accessibility Workshop presented for Shadowpath Theatre Company by Sarah Magni

Keywords

  1. Devised Theatre – Collective theatre making. A group works together to make a theatre piece form scratch. The group shares their ideas and tries different things. Devised theatre is unique because it uses more than just words to tell a story. There is usually movement and sound and music too.
  2. Disability Art/Disability Theatre – Disability Art (and Disability Theatre) is an artform that was born out of disability justice movements. Disability Art and Theatre is a tool for people with disabilities to use to communicate their stories when they are being treated unfairly. For some people with disabilities Disability Art is like a language and way of communicating
  3. Echolalia – Repeating phrases (that you’ve learned from TV, film, friends or family or other sources) as a way of communicating and processing information.
  4. Neurodiversity – There are many different ways of thinking, learning, understanding and communicating in the world. This is Neurodiversity.
  5. Stimming- Repetitive movements and/or sounds that people use to express their feelings and to calm themselves in stressful situations. Everyone stims and everyone’s stims look very different.

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