Enabling Theatre

Enabling Theatre is coming to the web, inviting you to log on, witness issues disabling  protagonists ,  some in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire,  others in Dakar, Senegal West Africa. What would you do?  We invite you to step inside the scene, share  your ideas show was what you would do. How would you confront the issue?  Don’t worry no-one out there will see you – unless you decide to upload your scene. Then  other people can watch and we have the beginning of a forum.  Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed comes to the internet.

Video Clip: Janet Calderdale Disability Arts Officer invited Susan to lead two workshops at the Independent Living Show 1999 in Halifax.  

Voice-over: extract from The Aesthetics of the Oppressed

I had met Susan Quick in a workshop I led in Derry, in Northern Ireland, ten years back. She liked my way of doing theatre so much that she went on to teach it in various wartorn African countries, where she worked for seven years. Returning to reside in her homeland, after having faced so many dangers abroad, what with bombs and grenades, she was driving her car peacefully back from an excursion, coming along a hillside in darkest winter when fog and night had turned to ice, only to spin off the road thirty metres from her door, and come careering off a ridge. She was left partly paralysed.

 This did not stop her from doing theatre and she went on to lead workshops for others like herself, who had some kind of physical or mental disability. I hardly need to say that my workshop with her group was one of the most difficult pieces of work of my life; never had my attention, or my care for the group, been more concentrated on each and every one of my pupils.

Boal came twice to Hebden Bridge : 

Opening clip from Vicky’s film Boal speaking . Augusto Boal invited us to share our stories. How does society disabled us?

Janet struggling to start her job.   Our society isn’t geared for disabled inclusion. Janet’s deaf but when she started her job as Disability Arts Officer she didn’t have sign language, unless she was going somewhere important. It’s not just work that doesn’t include us:

wheelchair lovers.  Aren’t disabled people supposed to fall in love?   Senegal lovers clip. And it’s the same in Africa.

In 2004 Enabling Theatre performed at the European Social Forum 2004 {image} and met with Chris McCaffery MP in the House of Commons to discuss the Disability Discrimination Bill 

Image overlay face of Chris McCafferty + Houses of Parliament

Enabling Theatre brings the socio-politics of disability  to the theatre. Did you know that there are nearly 14 million of us in the U.K?  That means disabled people now make up 22% of the UK population – more than one in five of us is disabled.  Where are we? There are only 5 disabled MPs in the House of Commons, out of a total of 650 MPs. How often do you see us on TV?  It’s time to change. On his return to Brazil after 15 years in political exile Boal created Legislative Theatre [image book ] bringing politics to the streets.

Enabling Theatre brings disability to the web, for us all to share. And understand. How many of  us are perfect?  Yes we all are perfect in our imperfection. 

Susan has run workshops in Nepal [photo]. Austria [photo]  and Africa. In 2016 she was invited to run workshops in Dakar Senegal with disabled members of Kaddu Yaarax theatre. Our Chair Tony McGovern went with her. Susan in agoraphobic, she can’t travel anywhere on her own.  They met more than 20 disabled people with different impairments.  


Papa Ngom who is blind had campaigned for free bus passes for disabled passengers for years. Finally a Mayor had decided disabled bus passengers should have free passes and  Enabling Theatre  was invited to perform at the Mayor’s presentation. 

 A member of the audience showed them there was nowhere for him to sit while waiting for the bus. The driver had to help him get on. Same when he finally got on, all the seats were taken.

At the event to celebrate the birth of Enabling Theatre Senegal members of the audience were invited on stage to act out a scene of their own. Two woman decided they would be co-wives, have the same husband which is perfectly legal in lots of countries. One of the women had a disabled son and her co-wife refused to share her house with him.

 If they can do it so can you. Come on the web and have a go. There’s no-one looking at you apart from your friends if you’ve invited them. Of course they can act too. You can all have a go.