Different Light Theatre: Multimodal Practices in Learning-Disabled Theatre

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Tony McCaffrey


Learning-disabled theatre is often perceived as giving a voice to the voiceless or empowering those marginalised in society. But how can this voice and power avoid becoming co-opted by neoliberal, racial, colonial capital merely to produce the entitled, self-possessed, autonomous individuals that late capitalism needs, but the production of which is destroying the planet? Does the political efficacy of this work consist in the mere presence of learning-disabled artists in these contexts, or is it not rather in the negotiation of the terms of their presence and participation? Interesting answers to these questions emerge in the exploration of the multimodal negotiation of voice, presence, representation and mediation in learning-disabled performance as performance.

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Author Biography

Tony McCaffrey, Ara, Te Pūkenga

Tony McCaffrey is artistic director of Different Light Theatre, a learning-disabled ensemble, and author of Incapacity and Theatricality (Routledge, 2019) and Giving and Taking Voice in Learning Disabled Theatre (Routledge, 2023). He is co-convenor of the Performance and Disability Working Group of the International Federation for Theatre Research.