Disability and the 'new normal': why Australia needs to ramp up access to stage and screen

Australia is ‘20 years behind’ in terms of disability-led performance and the fight for real representation is just beginning

In the old courthouse in Geelong, 75km south-west of Melbourne, the Back to Back theatre troupe is rehearsing their new play, Lady Eats Apple. Mark Deans begins the read-through of act three. “Blue car,” he says and, as per the script, is upbraided that – being a man with Down syndrome – he has never driven a car.

Lady Eats Apple will take the audience from a creation story into the contemporary realm when it is staged at the Melbourne festival next month, and next year at Sydney’s Carriageworks. Most of the actors would be perceived by the general community to have an intellectual disability. They write the scripts in part by drawing on improvisations based on their own lives; the story also explores euthanasia and gods destroyed by their own success.

There are some really talented people [with disabilities] who could do a lot of these roles.

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We’re not knocking at a closed door. We’re going, ‘You’ve got to keep that door open. How dare you shut it in our face.’

‘Disability’ doesn’t really exist; it’s our attitude towards people who live differently which makes things difficult.

There needs to be some type of quotas or standardised commitment from organisations to hire people with disabilities.

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Source: Guardian Dance News

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