Purposeless Movements

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We are very excited to announce that our 2016 hit production returns for a run at Edinburgh International Festival 2019. Purposeless Movements is a visually stunning dance theatre piece that riffs on the stories of four guys with cerebral palsy, how it affects their lives, their gender, their masculinity and their movement.

2019 performance information

We have two preview performances at Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock

🔵 Friday 16th August – 7.30pm
🔵 Saturday 17th August – 7.30pm

All EIF performances are at The Studio, Festival Theatre

🔵 Monday 19th August – 8pm
🔵 Tuesday 20th August – 3pm
🔵 Wednesday 21st August – 8pm
🔵 Thursday 22nd August – 12pm (midday) – Relaxed performance
🔵 Friday 23rd August – 3pm
🔵 Saturday 24th August – 8pm

All performances integrate audio description, BSL and animated surtitles.


BSL trailer:

Route to The Studio:

This video shows you a level access route of how to get from Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, to The Studio. For information on how to get to Festival Theatre, please visit their website here. For further access information about The Studio you can visit the Capital Theatres website, Edinburgh International Festival website or the Access Scottish Theatre website.

Easy Read & Visual Synopsis:

Please click on either of the following links to view the Easy Read & Visual Synopsis of Purposeless Movements.

Set & Costume Description:

Please click on either of the following links to view the set and costume descriptions of Purposeless Movements.

To book a Touch Tour please call 0131 472 2056 or click here for further information.

For anybody who requires a quiet area, there is a Retreat Space in the foyer of The Studio.

Funny and challenging in equal measure, the show fuses music, video, movement and text as the guys tell humorous and poignant stories of their laughter, their inappropriateness and their tears – stories that ask what it is to move and be moved. How do these stories come together to shape their identities? What do they share with one another and what sets them apart? And how much of this is down to Cerebral Palsy?

When they were born the doctors called it Purposeless Movements – for them it’s just how they get around.

The production is accompanied by music performed live on stage.

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⬇️ Information about the 2016 tour ⬇️


“…this is one brilliantly shrewd triumph of a show…”
“It’s theatre with an intensity of purpose, honest even unflinchingly graphic, wickedly funny and memorably impressive at every level.”
★★★★★ Herald »

“real laugh-out-loud stuff…wit, charm and pathos…”
“the music and song is an integral, and often beautiful, part of the show’s emotional integrity”
★★★★ The Scotsman »

“…a genuinely engaging, touching and amusing production…”
★★★★ Broadway Baby

“Unflinching, inventive, and tender…”
★★★★ The Stage »

“The stories…are personal, often very intimate, and also incredibly funny”
★★★★ TVBomb

“…as satisfying in its form as anything crafted for the big popular circuit….its true value in creating theatrical magic…”
★★★★ AllEdinburghTheatre

Discover what audiences thought of Purposeless Movements

Production Photographs


2016 Tour Information

Made in co-production with Tramway

Tramway, Glasgow Thu 25 – Sat 27 Feb 2016

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Wed 2 – Fri 4 Mar 2016

Eden Court, Inverness Wed 16 Mar 2016


⬇️ Meet the 2016 Creative Team ⬇️

Robert Softley Gale: Writer & Director

Robert is an established figure in the Scottish arts scene, with over ten years experience in diverse and varied roles – including disability rights activist, actor and performer, writer, artistic director and supporter and advocate of equality of access to the arts for disabled people whether as artists or audiences.

Robert’s professional acting debut was with Theatre Workshop (Edinburgh) in Nothing Ever Burns Down By Itself in 2002 and since then has appeared in many productions and has developed his own artistic practice – most recently instigating, co-writing and performing in Girl X for the National Theatre of Scotland, directed by Pol Heyvaert of Belgium’s Campo. In 2011 he was awarded and undertook a Creative Scotland residency which allowed him to develop If These Spasms Could Speak.

A graduate of Glasgow University with an MSc (Hons) in Business & Management, Robert’s other role is as a director of flip – disability equality in the arts which works across Scotland to support individuals and organisations in the arts sector.

Other acting credits include: The Hogmanay Boys, Asylum, I Have Before Me…, The Threepenny Opera, The Last Little Fish in the Net and Hans Christian Andersen: A Christmas Tale (Theatre Workshop); The Irish Giant and Brazil 12 – Scotland 0 (Birds of Paradise), Heelz n Wheelz (Fittings Multimedia); A (Gay Disabled Transsexual) Love Story… (Boygirlfruitflower) and Private Dancer (Janice Parker). Film and television credits include Out of Order (MacInnes Films), Trouble Sleeping (Makar Productions) and River City (BBC Scotland). He has recorded a number of dramas for BBC Radio 4.

Laurence Clark: Performer

Laurence Clark is an internationally-acclaimed comedian, presenter, writer and actor who has cerebral palsy.  His observational, political stand-up and hidden camera footage demonstrate the endearing naivety and ridiculousness of human behaviour by seeing the world through his eyes with humour and warmth.  He’s performed everywhere from the House of Commons to a double-decker bus in Sheffield.  His 6 critically-acclaimed solo shows at the Edinburgh Fringe have gained him 21 4-star and 3 5-star reviews.

With television appearances on BBC, ITV and Channel 4, Laurence was the subject of a major BBC1 documentary called “We Won’t Drop the Baby” shown in March 2012.  He was awarded Shortlist magazine’s Funniest New Comedian, for 5 years wrote a popular blog for BBC Ouch and regularly performs and writes sketches for comedy collective Abnormally Funny People, resident at London’s Soho Theatre.

Pete Edwards: Performer

Pete’s artistic practice spans acting, writing, devising and leading workshops.

His acting work includes: Moliere’s George Dandin, directed by Phillip Osmond. The short film Welcome Stop, directed by Michael Achtman. His solo show Fat which he wrote and performed, which was also directed by Michael Achtman.

Pete took Fat on tour which included DaDa Festival Liverpool where he won the ‘Emerging Artist Award’ of 2010. He also took the show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival In 2012. In 2013 he was supported by the Arts Council England, the Barbican Centre and Guildhall School of Music & Drama to design and deliver performance workshops for people with alternative forms of communication. In 2014 he was awarded an Unlimited R&D, exploring themes of rape and sexual abuse of disabled people through a mixture of realistic and abstract scenes.

Pete has also delivered accessible drama workshops for RAWD in Liverpool, spoken at the Integr ART conference in Geneva and at the Live Art Development Agency’s Access All Areas conference in London.

Jim Fish: Performer

This is Jim’s first role working with BOP and he’s very excited to be involved in the project. He trained at the Oxford School of Drama and has worked with many different theatre companies over the years. He is currently a principal member of the well established Krazy Kat theatre company, who specialise in innovative and visual performances for deaf and disabled children. He has also worked with Fittings Multimedia, a disability-led company on Master Juba and with Deafinitely Theatre, one of the UK’s best Deaf-led theatre companies whose work include touring new writing around the UK to performing Shakespeare at The Globe Theatre. Some of his other acting credits include, The Winters Tale, King Lear and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe (RSC), Two (Southwark Playhouse), The Tempest (Nottingham Playhouse), Seven Jewish Children (Hackney Empire/Gilt and Grime), The Tempest and Adventures in Wonderland (Teatro Vivo), Day By Night (The Albany, Deptford), The Perfect Spot (Cartoon Theatre/Arts in Motion), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (CBSO), Fire in the Fields (Theatre and Beyond), For Once I Was (The Silent Collective), Body Checks (Guildford Yvonne Arnaud), Transmissions and Toy Theatre (Birmingham Rep), La Cage Aux Folles (Tour), Blood on the 3 for 2 Display (Old Red Lion/Paines Plough), The Wedding Dress (StoneCrabs), Film credits include The Brits are Coming, High Rise and Neighbours from Space. He also played Max Cunningham in the multi award winning short The End.

Colin Young: Performer

Colin Young’s interest in performance came through college and university when talking part in productions including, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Crucible. Since joining VisABLE Colin has had 3 major appearances in Call the Midwife and the Dumping Ground for the BBC. Colin continues to pursue acting while working in the third sector and completing a PhD.

Rachel Drazek: Movement Director

Rachel’s work as a movement practitioner spans a wide range of performance and community contexts. Having just finished work as Movement Director on The Hurricane Boy (regional tour) she is very much looking forward to working with the team on Purposeless Movements. Rachel facilitates community projects widely throughout the Uk including Inclusive movement, Somatic movement and Dance for Elders sessions – as featured in The Guardian newspaper last year. With a BA in Acting and and MA in Movement, teaching and working alongside actors is a key area of interest and work. Teaching credits include; Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS), ALRA (North & South), The Dukes Theatre Lancaster.  Rachel’s dance interests very much lie in the social dance arenas, teaching international folk dances and Rock’n’Roll partner work. Recent performance credits include; Crazy Jane, Birds of Paradise; I Do, Dante or Die; Blown Away, Birds Nest Theatre; and The BFG and Snow Queen both for The Dukes Theatre Lancaster.

Luke Pell: Dramaturg

Luke Pell is an artist living in Scotland. Working in and in between spaces of dance, theatre and live art. Maker and curator he collaborates with other artists and organisations imagining alternative contexts for performance, participation and discourse that might reveal wisdoms for living. Fascinated by detail, nuances of time, texture, memory and landscape. His artistic projects take form as intimate encounters; poetic objects, installations and designed environments – site-responsive choreographies – for physical and virtual spaces. He is Associate Artist with Candoco Dance Company, Janice Parker Projects and Fevered Sleep.

Luke’s work has been presented throughout the UK and internationally including Not Simply Dancing, Greenwich Dance; Unlimited Festival, Southbank Centre, London; In Between Time, Bristol; E- Motional, Romania, Anti-Festival, Finland and Room of Requirement, Berlin. His recent collaborative work Take Me To Bed with Jo Verrent, won the prize for ‘Best Overall Work’ at the inaugural Light Moves Festival of Screen Dance, Ireland, 2014 going on to be presented at Dance Live, Aberdeen; Dance International Glasgow, Tramway and Dansens Hus, Stockholm.

His curatorial projects have included: What Next 2013 for Independent Dance, London; A (Supper) Room Full of Words for Greenwich Dance; the In Dialogue series for Candoco Dance Company and Supporting Artists with PAL Lab he is also a repeat recipient of Jerwood Performing Arts Residencies at Cove Park.

Scott Twynholm: Composer & Musician

Scott Twynholm is a musician and composer based in Glasgow. Recent work includes the scores for the feature documentaries: My Brother the Ark Raider (BBC ALBA), Alasdair Gray – A Life in Progress (Hopscotch Films), Scottish BAFTA winning Marty Goes to Hollywood (Urban Croft), and BAFTA nominated drama short A Love Divided (Solar Bear). His compositions have also appeared in Palme d’Or nominated The Edukators, Cameron Crow’s Vanilla Sky, numerous adverts and TV programmes. In 2015 Alasdair Gray – A Life in Progress was released as a soundtrack album on De-Fence records.

He has also composed music for many theatre and dance productions. These include Love Struck (BalletLORENT), Denton And Me (The Arches), The Gamblers (Greyscale/Dundee Rep), Wallace (The Arches/National Theatre of Great Britain), Catch-22 (Northern Stage), Endurance (A Moment’s Peace), Far Away and The Grapes Of Wrath (Citizens Theatre), GirlX and This Is What We Ask (National Theatre of Scotland), Spoonface Steinberg (Jermyn St Theatre, London), Yarla and the Winter Wood (Starcatchers), First Light (Imaginate), If These Spasms Could Speak (The Arches, Edinburgh Festival), Good With People (Paines Plough).

Kim Moore: Musician

Kim Moore is a composer based in Glasgow, she makes work across the arts and under the name WOLF. Kim also used to make music with Glasgow indieband Zoey Van Goey. Her work includes collaborations with Glasgow Film Theatre, National Theatre of Scotland, Magnetic North, Sound and Music : Adopt a Composer working with Bristol Reggae Orchestra, Eilidh MacAskill, Traverse Theatre, Barrowland Ballet. 2016 sees Kim working with Barrowland Ballet touring internationally, Curious Seed, Julia Taudevin, Terra Incognita, Tom Dale, Jenna Watt, Playtronica, and starting a new record label called ICOSA records.

You’ve got to be Ballsy

Stories from the Front Line of Cerebral Palsy

You’ve got to be Ballsy: Stories from the Front Line of Cerebral Palsy is a film that investigates the experiences of young people with CP living in 2018.

The film is presented by a young comedian with CP, Jack Hunter, and follows Jack as he speaks with a number of young people about the positive and negative ways that CP has impacted on their lives. In parallel, Jack was also given mentoring by professional comedian with CP, Laurence Clark, who helped Jack develop material for a comedy routine.

BOP knows from its own research (Barriers) and from conversations with Bobath Scotland that young disabled people and young people with CP do not experience equality of access to the arts as audiences, participants or developing artists.  Neither do they have the opportunity to have time and space to explore issues of identity and perceptions around cerebral palsy outside service specific environments. This film helps detail some of the ways this actually manifests for people.

Above is the trailer, the full film will become available very soon.

You’ve got to be Ballsy was funded by RS Macdonald Trust and supported by National Theatre of Scotland and Bobath Scotland. It was made by Francisco M. Mallo.

Why did we make it?

In 2018, BOP made a production with National Theatre of Scotland called My Left/Right Foot – The Musical. This show is about an amateur dramatic society who are tired of never winning the revered One Act Play Competition. When they discover you can get bonus points for embracing themes of inclusiveness, they decide to put on a stage version of the 1989 film My Left Foot, a film about the Irish writer Christy Brown – who had cerebral palsy – played by the actor Daniel Day-Lewis (who does not have CP).

Robert Softley Gale was inspired to write My Left/Right Foot – The Musical because of his personal experience of growing up as a young person with CP at the same time the film My Left Foot was released.

As a young boy with cerebral palsy, the film of My Left Foot in 1989 was the first time I’d seen a character with the same impairment as me in mainstream culture. My mum raved about Daniel Day-Lewis’s brilliant performance and how “he’s just so like you”. But what could I really take from this portrayal of a disabled person by a non-disabled actor?

Such depictions of disability that litter our culture reinforce ideas that disabled people are victims, trapped inside bodies and in need of pity. What does this do for disabled people in 2019?

Robert Softley Gale, Writer / Director: My Left/Right Foot – The Musical

During rehearsals we became aware that Robert’s experience of growing up with CP as a young person in the 1980s would be completely different to the experience of young people with CP growing up in 2018. This film was created as a way of capturing what their experiences actually are.


Made by Francisco M. Mallo

Presented by Jack Hunter

Featuring interviews with Sam Agnew, Laurence Clark, Matthew Duckett, Bernie Hunter, Rebecca Nicholson, Grace Skinner, Robert Softley Gale.

Featuring footage from My Left/Right Foot – The Musical written and directed by Robert Softley Gale, with music and lyrics by Richard Thomas, and Scott Gilmour & Claire McKenzie.

____ is where the heart is

created by Heather Marshall
produced by Birds of Paradise and Creative Electric
in association with Argyll Arts Collective and The Touring Network
commissioned as part of the BRAW initiative

  • Glasgow: 27th & 28th June 
  • Shetland: 3rd July 
  • Edinburgh: 10th July 
  • Drumnadrochit: 18th July
  • Lochgoilhead: 20th July 
  • Wick: 23rd July

My city and me.
I want change.
A place with real people.
Who stop and smile and say hello.
Who know me.
Really know me.

I saw it on tv. Amish teenagers, when they turn 18, go on a right of passage to the city. They go for a year and try all the things they don’t have at home – clubs, going to the cinema, shopping centres, trains… And if they like it they stay and if they don’t then they go back to their families and are baptised into the Amish faith.

I feel like that’s what I need. I love it here, its beautiful, but how can I know who I am and how I want to live until I’ve experienced other ways of life? It’s a case of unrequited love.

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‘_____ is where the heart is’ is a tale of displacement and identity that weaves stories from local audiences into its narrative to create a play that resonates with each community it visits.

Participants will be invited to the ‘_____ is where the heart is’ pop up recording studio to record stories and memories of their home- the people who make it special, the local folklore and the moments that have gone down in local history.

These stories will then be incorporated into the performance – each community will have a performance that is entirely unique to them.

⬇️ Meet the Team ⬇️

Heather Marshall – Writer / Director
Nicholas Alban – Performer
Conrad Williamson – Performer
Jamie Rae – BSL Performer
Jonny Reed – Technical Stage Manager
Michelle Rolfe – Producer
Geraldine Heaney – Filmmaker
Yvonne Strain – BSL Consultant
Alyson Woodhouse – Audio Description Consultant
Andy Reid – Captioning Programmer

⬇️ Creative Team Bios ⬇️

Heather Marshall: Writer & Director

Heather is a multiple award winning artist who creates accessible socio-political performance and live art for people that may not traditionally attend main stream arts events. She often works under the company name Creative Electric. Recent works includes The Happiness Project which explores the importance of non-sexual physical contact in our digital era and is running at the armyatfringe.org during the Edinburgh Fringe 2019.

Nicholas Alban: Performer

Nicholas is a regular performer and collaborator with Creative Electric. A graduate of the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama recent roles include, The Happiness Project, Shoplifter<>Shapeshifter, and Theatre Uncut at the Traverse Theatre

Conrad Williamson: Performer

Conrad is a graduate of The Academy of Live and Recorded Arts, recent credits include Rosalind in As You Like It – Sam Wanamaker Festival; Josh in The Man Will Kill Us All; and Harold Gillies/Dr Scroggy in Dr Scroggy’s War.

Jamie Rae: BSL Performer

Jamie is an actor and one of the inaugural graduates of the Royal Scottish Conservatoire’s BA Performance in BSL and English.

Access Information

All performances include:

  • Partial pre-recorded BSL, performed by Deaf performer Jamie Rae. Presented on TV screens built into the set.
  • Captions, presented on TV screens built into the set.
  • Verbal Description.
  • Touch Tours available.  Please contact the venue directly to arrange.
  • For venue information please contact them directly.

Set Description 

Click on the below link for a description of the set for “____ is where the heart is”. The document is accessible to screen-readers. “____ is where the heart is” Set Description

What can I expect if I book this show?

BOP can be resident in your community for between 2-7 days prior to performances. This allows community members to build a relationship with the company, create unique work that will feature in the final performances and have ownership of the production.

We recommend a minimum of two days in each community- one day for the company to gather stories and the second as the performance day. However the more time we have within your community the richer the final performance will be.

Workshops can take the following formats and are adaptable to suit your community:

  • Pop up recording studios: open to everyone. People can drop in over a three hour period and record their memories prompted by stimulus and question cards. Perfect for people who like to work independently or are unsure about committing to a full workshop. Recordings can be any length and participants are welcome to visit multiple times.
    Drop in: 3 hrs 
  • Reminiscence workshops: particularly suited for lunch clubs, supported accommodation, nursing homes and activity groups for elder members of the community. These workshops are facilitated by an artist and encourage participants to share memories of growing up in the local area with a focus on variety performance & cinema, family life & expectations and dating & the dancing. These workshops have previously been very popular with participants aged 60+ as they are relaxed and conversational.
    Running time 60-90 mins 
  • Creative writing and storytelling: these workshops start with either food or music as a stimulus and encourage participants to explore memories associated with the stimulus. They are supported by facilitators to create a short story either through creative writing or spoken word that can be performed by participants.
    This workshop is suitable for all ages and can be facilitated in nurseries, schools, youth & community groups.
    Running time 60-90 mins 

Show Details

Performance running time: 40-50 mins (dependent on material collected). Up to two performances per day.

Performance Team: two performers, one director and one TSM. All company members hold enhanced PVG certificates.

Performance Space:_____ is where the heart is’ is an installation based performance that can be adapted to suit your venue. The installation will be set up on arrival at the venue and workshops can be offered in the space. Audiences are free to explore the installation prior to and post performance.

_____ is where the heart is’ can be thought of as a touring, interactive artwork that hosts two performances a day.

Further information available on The Tourbook

Images below are from development work on _____ is where the heart is’ , Lochgoilhead – January 2019

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Imaginate at BOP Artists

Imaginate at BOP Artists is a joint research and development project from BOP and Imaginate. The project will support a disabled artist based in Scotland to explore and develop a new theatre and/or dance performance idea for young audiences. The selected artist will have paid time and free space to research and develop their idea.

A man with short dark hair in full glam drag makeup lies on a zebra print rug. He is wearing tights and high heels.

Promotional image for ‘Wasted Youth’ by Jordy

After a call-out, we are delighted that the artist who will receive support is Edinburgh-based artist Jordy.  The support will include a development budget, space and a Go & See fund to see lots of performances.  Watch this space for more news……

Jordy is an artist based in Edinburgh, that works between Edinburgh and Glasgow creating performance based work that specialises in health and queer art.  His work looks at identity and persona in the art of drag and fantasy vs reality. His work also examines social norms and perception of self.

Jordy said

I am excited to be able to merge my experience as a Youth Arts Practitioner and Drag Artist in a production. I have been passionate for a while now to develop something that showcases drag for children to be able to see. In light of what is currently going on with education introducing an LGBT + curriculum, the timing feels right to produce a piece of theatre that demonstrates the spectrum of families and that ordinary doesn’t actually exist among us. By working with other artists and organisations in this project, I will be able to ensure that many voices are heard, which is something I feel is a necessity in this instance. My Mum and Dad said… will be a chance for an audience to learn about other families, other than the conventions of a heteronormative world we naturally are programmed to believe exists.

For this residency, Jordy will work on a new idea called My Mum and Dad said…

My Mum and Dad said… (working title)

A piece of interactive, drag theatre for young people exploring different families and people with no judgement.

Jordy’s work has included most recently Wasted Youth (January 2019), a one man show looking at Cystic Fibrosis and Drag; the Making Space programme in collaboration with SYT, creating “Love, Delta F508” (April 2019), a piece about lung transplants, and will be creating “My Mum and Dad said…” which focuses on the conventions of family life.

Imaginate at BOP Artists call-out (archive)

This opportunity does not have to take place at a specific time or location, Imaginate and BOP will work with the selected artist to identify the most accessible timeframe and location for the artist – however the work must take place in Scotland, at any time between April 2019 – March 2020.


  • A budget of £2000 to cover artist fees and materials for research and development time
  • Access to accessible development space suitable to your requirements – for a maximum of 14 days, used in the way the best serves you
  • Access to Go & See funding of up to £150, enabling you to go and see relevant work – including a bespoke package at Edinburgh International Children’s Festival 2019.
  • Additional budget where required to cover access requirements
  • Access to support and advice from BOP and Imaginate staff


This is an opportunity for a disabled artist based in Scotland who is interested in exploring making theatre and/or dance for young audiences. (Our definition of disability includes if you are D/deaf or have a mental health condition.)

  • It is open to those who have experience of working with young audiences as well as those for whom this would be brand new.
  • It is open to artists at all stages of their career.
  • It is open to all artists who identify as disabled – for a full description of how BOP define ‘disability’ please click here.

Applications will be assessed on the following criteria:

  • How exciting the panels find the idea the artist has proposed
  • How that idea would work for young audiences
  • How beneficial being selected will be to the artist’s career


This project will support to an artist to develop a performance idea but there is no expectation of what stage the idea will be in by the end of the project – you might have a scratch performance, or, you might have lots of notes that need continued development. You will be free to use the time and resources to develop your idea in the way that best suits you.

Despite providing support at this stage, neither BOP or Imaginate are able to commit to ongoing support of the idea going forward.


Access is at the heart of what BOP does, we will always work to ensure that the selected artist is able to work in an environment that is suitable for their specific access requirements. If you do have any access requirements, please detail them on the application form and we will work to accommodate them. Your access requirements should not be a reason that you cannot take part in this opportunity.


DEADLINE: 5pm on Monday 25th March 2019

You can complete the application form and answer our questions in a variety of ways:

  • Via the online form – link here
  • Using a paper form – email artists@boptheatre.co.uk  for a copy
  • Over the phone – 0141 552 1725 – we can talk to you and fill in the form
  • In person can be arranged if you require a scribe to work with you

Selection Process:
All applications will be considered by a panel including Robert Gale (Artistic Director/CEO, BOP), Fiona Ferguson (Creative Development Director, Imaginate) and a disabled freelance artist tbc.

The imaginate logo

Imaginate is the national organisation in Scotland, which promotes, develops and celebrates theatre and dance for children and young people. Imaginate wants more children in Scotland to experience work that is deeply engaging, innovative and inspiring. We support artists with a year-round programme of creative development, including events, training, residencies, mentoring and special projects. We also produce the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival which showcases the best of children’s theatre and dance from around the world and is recognized as one of the best places for international programmers to see work of the very highest standard.

BOP Young Artists

BOP Young Artists is a new artist development initiative from Birds of Paradise Theatre Company, supported by The Robertson Trust.

Lead by BOP’s Development Officer, Morna McGeoch (go to BOP staff), from April until August 2019 the Young Artists will take part in a range of workshops and events that will develop their skills and knowledge in a range of performance based areas. These experiences will also contribute to furthering their professional development by aiding in the development of professional networks with organisations and individuals from across the sector in Scotland.

Some of these events include:

    • Access to Acting workshop led by Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA), at Scottish Youth Theatre, in April 2019
    • Observing rehearsals of Birds of Paradise and National Theatre of Scotland’s ‘My Left/Right Foot: The Musical’ at NTS’ purpose-built home: Rockvilla, April 2019
    • Attending performances of ‘My Left Right Foot: The Musical’ at Dundee Rep, May 2019, and ‘Purposeless Movements’ as part of the Edinburgh International Festival, August 2019.

Stay tuned for further information of what the BOP Young Artists have been doing.

BOP-YA call out (archive)

  • BOP Young Artists is for any Glasgow based (or who can get to Glasgow) young person who has ideas in the performing arts or skills they would like to develop.  It could be that you have not been able to access other projects or it could be that you are involved in other things but are interested to meet other disabled young people in an accessible environment to explore ideas together.
  • The selected group of young people will meet to take part in regular group workshops.  The initiative will be organised by a Development Officer and they will work with you to plan projects and workshops based on what you want to learn together and the direction you want to go in.  We will shape the programme around the specific areas of interest of everybody involved. Some ideas of what the workshops could focus on are: storytelling; movement; playwriting; using music on stage. These are just ideas – we are very open to exploring any fields of interest that have a connection to performance. We hope that once a year you there will be a performance or event to share the ideas you have been working on.
  • We understand that some disabled people experience barriers preventing them from taking part in creative opportunities, so because of this we do not expect you to have taken part in previous creative opportunities. However, we do expect you to have a passion for creating performance – perhaps you love creating short films with your friends, or maybe you enjoy writing or taking photographs – all we are looking for people who have an interest in making creative work as part of a group.
  • BOP Young Artists is an artist development opportunity aimed at people who have experienced barriers in taking part in other artist development opportunities due to an impairment. We want this project to provide a space where young people with a passion for the performing arts can learn skills and develop their own creative practice, so they are better able to apply and take part in future creative opportunities. BOP wants to help nurture the future generation of talented disabled creatives.
  • BOP Young Artists is free for all people to take part, you will however have to arrange your own travel to and from the fortnightly workshops in Glasgow.
  • BOP will always work to whatever your access requirements are and we have a specific budget set aside to overcome any barriers that may have an associated cost – we do not want an individual’s access requirements to be a barrier that prevents them from taking part in BOP Young Artists.
  • BOP uses the term ‘disabled people’ or ‘disabled artists’ to refer to anyone who self-identifies as disabled. This includes people who are D/deaf or have a mental health condition. To see the full definition we use, please follow this link.

Any further questions, please contact Callum at callum@boptheatre.co.uk or 0141 552 1725

Supported by

The logo for The Robertson Trust. 

BOP turns 25 – December: Robert Softley Gale


BOP is turning 25 this year – to celebrate we have been in conversation with some of the key figures who have helped to make the company what it is.

Robert is Artistic Director of Birds of Paradise. Robert is an established figure in the Scottish arts scene, with over ten years of experience in diverse roles including disability rights activist, actor and performer, writer, artistic director and advocate of equality of access to the arts for disabled people. Robert has appeared in many productions and has developed his own artistic practice – including instigating, co-writing and performing in ‘Girl X’ for the National Theatre of Scotland, directed by Pol Heyvaert of Belgium’s Campo. His award-winning writing debut and solo performance – ‘If These Spasms Could Speak’ – was a hit of the 2013 Made in Scotland programme and has subsequently toured internationally to countries including Brazil and India.

BOP turns 25: November – Johnny McKnight

BOP is turning 25 this year – to celebrate we have been in conversation with some of the key figures who have helped to make the company what it is.

Johnny McKnight trained at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He works as a writer, director, performer and educator. His work has taken him throughout Scotland, London, Cardiff, Czech Republic, Madrid, Valencia, Singapore and New York. He has been described as the new ‘vanguard’ of pantomime in the national press, having written 14 contemporary pantomimes. He is also the author of several education publications for Scottish Opera and RSCS. Johnny wrote BOP’s hit show Wendy Hoose, co-directed by Johnny and BOP Artistic Director Robert Gale.

BOP in Rwanda

A group of 16 people are posing for a photo. The photo has been taken at a training session BOP was running in Rwanda for the British Council. Most of the people are black but there are four white people. One lady is using crutches and Robert from BOP is in his wheelchair, in the centre of the picture (how does he always manage that). Everyone is smiling and some people have their hands raised waving at the camera.In 2018, BOP had the pleasure of being invited by the British Council to deliver a series of workshops in association with Amizero Dance Company & East Africa Nights of Tolerance Dance Festival. The aim of the work was to deliver capacity building workshops in Kigali, Rwanda, as part of the ongoing development work of East Africa Arts; a project working with artists and companies from across East Africa with a focus an cross-artform practice and disability equality.  East Africa Arts also promotes new art, shares skills of creatives and ignites partnerships between the UK and East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan).

This series of workshops happened between Kigali and Glasgow, throughout 2018 and the end result was a piece of performance that had been workshopped a lot and just needed time in rehearsal before it would be performed at the theatre festival in Uganda.

For more information about each of the weeks of work, please see below. For each week, there is a summary in the dropdown box and a detailed PDF document if you are interested in further reading.

Week 1: Kigali - Feb 2018

For the first week Robert Softley Gale (Artistic Director), Mairi Taylor (Executive Producer) and Rachel Drazek (Freelance Movement Artist) travelled from Scotland to Kigali to deliver a three-day workshop. Throughout the days BOP worked responsively with the group, shifting activity in response to the group’s learning needs.  To do this we drew on our the knowledge and on the established processes of the company – including artistic practises and knowledge around disability equality and artist development.

The aim of the workshop was to equip a group of disabled and non-disabled practitioners with the skills and knowledge required to co-devise work, informed by BOP’s own processes of devising/storytelling/movement which have been developed while creating accessible work in the UK.

The workshop was planned for 15 – 20 participants, including choreographer Wezley Ruzibiza (Director of Amizero Dance Company). Throughout the days BOP worked responsively with the group, shifting activity in response to the group’s learning needs.  To do this we drew on our the knowledge and on the established processes of the company – including artistic practises and knowledge around disability equality and artist development.

Throughout the days BOP worked responsively with the group, shifting activity in response to the group’s learning needs.  To do this we drew on our the knowledge and on the established processes of the company – including artistic practises and knowledge around disability equality and artist development.

At the end of the final day we – controversially – split the group into disabled and non-disabled groups to gather feedback.  This is not something that the company would normally do or encourage but there were several reasons on this occasion:

    • To directly challenge some persisting attitudes held by the non-disabled participants
    • To demonstrate to the non-disabled participants that disabled people deserve a space that is theirs
  • To provide the disabled participants with an opportunity to feedback and have a voice separate from the whole group

The results of this split discussion were very enlightening: the disabled group felt much more freely able to discuss their newly developed independence and confidence; the non-disabled group opened up about the preconceptions they had held before the workshops of the limitations of what disabled could do and how they should be treated.

For a more in depth analysis of the feedback from the two groups, and the other elements of the workshops, please read the full report below.

BOP & British Council: Rwanda Evaluation Report – February 2018

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Week 2: Glasgow - Sep 2018

The second series of workshops took place in Glasgow at National Theatre of Scotland’s headquarters Rockvilla. One of the artists BOP worked with in week 1 – Anisia Byukusenge – came to the UK.  This came about in part after an initial suggestion by BOP that a trip to the Unlimited Festival in London in September 2018 and time with BOP and other artists in Glasgow could have a big impact on the development of the artists.  Initially Valentine was also due to travel but sadly his Visa application was denied and Anisia was the only artist to come to the UK.

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Week 3: Kigali - Oct 2018

For week 3, Robert, Mairi and Rachel returned to Kigali to continue the work they had begun with the group of disabled artists they had met in February 2018.  During that initial visit the aim of the work had been to deliver capacity building workshops as part of the ongoing development work of East Africa Arts; a project working with artists and companies from across East Africa with a focus an cross-artform practice and disability equality.

The aim of this second week in Kigali was to work with 5 developing disabled artists, including Anisia, to create a performance using her poem My Journey is a Sign of Hope.  When initially discussed with the British Council in planning stages the aspirations for the week were not so clearly focused and started with more of a remit around professional development.  This morphed and became clearly focused over the summer, and following working with Anisia in Glasgow, and the British Council being able to find funds to bring Rachel out with Mairi and Robert.  This allowed the BOP team of three to work very intensely over the 5 days and to push everyone involved to realise the beginnings of a final performance.

There was an overarching aim of consolidating all that had gone before – pulling together threads and themes from across performances and with past fashion work being involved in the wider BC Rwanda Telling Stories project.  

The core material of the performance was Anisia’s poem and from this, alongside ideas and images developed in Glasgow, we started to work swiftly on exploring themes in the work, drawing from the skills and interests in the room to create a schedule that would result in a performance for sharing at the end of the five days.  We wanted to leave a structure that could be developed but ensure that the whole piece was mapped out and that those being left to oversee and perform it were confident in the content and the intent.

At the end of everyday the BOP team would plan the next day in response to what was developing in the room and with the final performance in Uganda very much in mind.  A schedule was provided every morning so that everyone knew what was planned for the day.

At the end of the five days we achieved:

    • A 20 minute in-progress performance that was ready to share
    • A script with blocking, movement cues, and design suggestions
    • Increased confidence in artists to contribute to creative and development process
    • Set, prop and design ideas discussed and left to realise
  • Rehearsal Director left with a rounded understanding of the work with the materials to rehearse and develop

Feedback with the artists about this final week revealed that the artists satisfied, and sometimes surprised, with how the performance had come together. Many of the artists expressed that when they began the workshops they hadn’t expected for the finished result to look so good. Also, everyone – even the access workers – felt they had learned a lot from each other, were exposed to new practices and would be able to take these new skills forward into other aspects of their lives.

For a more in depth analysis of the feedback from the two groups, and the other elements of the workshops, please read the full report below.

BOP & British Council: Rwanda Evaluation Report – October 2018

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At the end of our February 2018 report we commented:

We would also suggest looking at what the disabled artists may need in terms of training and developing technique. For example, many of them spoke with quiet voices and were clearly not familiar with being assertive within a performance environment. Voice coaching and similar classes would be hugely beneficial to the disabled artists in developing their careers.

We would recommend that translators are used in these situations – there were three plus languages in our workshops and it became a layered process communicating and understanding.”

On the October 2018 visit we noted major changes:

    • Confidence – vocal projection and presence in the room had greatly improved
    • Articulation  – being clear the group should be supported as independent artists
    • More discernible skills developing – artists holding show in their minds and supporting others
  • Lack of skills more apparent but identifiable so could be more easily supported

The artists are understandably lacking some  core skills that come with training – for instance the ability to hold and retain movement – but we can see that this is developing.

In conclusion BOP had a wonderful experience working with the artists Kigali and is very pleased with the processes we used and the journeys that the individuals went on.  We feel that we managed to foster an accessible and creative environment which left everyone with a desire to continue and a passion for the messages we delivered.

A major rationale for the February workshops was to create opportunities for more collaboration and also the space for the disabled artists to develop in a disabled-led environment – on our return we could feel this being realised.

What did BOP learn through this project?

    • The ongoing need to educate disabled and non-disabled people about the core principles of disability equality and to support disabled people to recognise and communicate their access requirements.
    • To be very mindful of language barriers in international settings
    • Timeframes impact on practice and dilute good practice when you are trying to work in an inclusive way
    • The power of building workshops and training around our productions
    • The power of moving between creative action and theoretical ideas to support each strand
    • There are challenges in working across cultures and not knowing what you don’t know
    • In a situation where you rely on translation you will never fully understand what is going on in the room but this does open up other avenues of communication
  • We can work successfully as a creative team in response to intensive conditions

The British Council logo.

BOP turns 25 – October: Liz Gardiner

BOP is turning 25 this year – to celebrate we have been in conversation with some of the key figures who have helped to make the company what it is.

Liz Gardiner is a Doctoral Researcher, artist, teacher and free-lance consultant specialising in cultural planning. As executive director of the cultural social enterprise charity, Fablevision, she develops and delivers case study examples in practice, starting with Birds of Paradise in the 1980’s, which Fablevision supported from inception to the establishment of BOP as an independent organisation.

BOP turns 25 – September: Liam Sinclair

BOP is turning 25 this year – to celebrate we have been in conversation with some of the key figures who have helped to make the company what it is.

In October 2016 Liam took up post with the University of St Andrews as Artistic Director of the Byre Theatre. Prior to this he held the roles of Executive Producer for Scottish Dance Theatre; Artistic Director & CEO of Macrobert Arts Centre; Director of the Edinburgh Mela; and Head of YouthWorks Drama (Short Courses) for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, of which he is a graduate. He is Chair of the Board for Luminate, Scotland’s Creative Ageing Festival, and stood down in 2015 from serving for 8 years as Chair of Birds of Paradise Theatre Company.

25th Anniversary Revue

Wednesday 31st October, 8pm – 11pm


Join BOP and friends at our 25th Anniversary Revue to celebrate 25 years of the company and to raise money for our young artist’s development work. We have had a fantastical year and want to have a get together with all our friends and supporters to celebrate the achievements of BOP and to get to know you better.

This will be a fabulous night of song, performance and comedy, hosted by the incredible Jess Thom (AKA Touretteshero), who you may have seen on Russel Howard’s Good News, delivering a TED Talk or starring in a BBC documentary Me, My Mouth and I about her critically acclaimed version of Samuel Beckett’s Not I.

Our 25th Anniversary Revue is a chance for us to meet up with our audiences, friends and partners and also a chance for us to fundraise towards project work.  To help us cover the costs of the event and aim to raise some project money we are asking for a ticket price of £20 but there is also an option to Pay What You Can option because we want the event to be as accessible as possible. It will be held at Deaf Connections, 100 Norfolk Street, Glasgow, G5 9EJ

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Laurence Clark

Laurence Clark is an internationally-acclaimed comedian, writer and actor who has cerebral palsy.  His observational, political stand-up and filmed stunts demonstrate the endearing naivety and ridiculousness of human behaviour by seeing the world through his eyes with humour and warmth.

Visit their website

Harry Josephine Giles

Harry Josephine Giles will perform energetic poems veering between the daft and the dangerous, the political and the playful.

Visit their website

Sally Clay

Sally is a musician, composer and musical director, and will be performing some songs.

Oasissy: Monobrow World Tour

We are Oasissy: the greatest – and queerestest – Oasis tribute act of all time. We have studied the manuscripts of Oasis’ back catalogue, embodied the Gallagher swagger and now we have a message for the people – a message that will be revealed at the GIG OF A LIFETIME.

Leah Francisco

A stand-up comedian performs in sign language fulfilling her dream to make people laugh as well as bringing Deaf Culture to mainstream audiences talking about her experiences of growing up in the hearing world. Leah will surely surprise you and bring tears to your ears or your eyes!

Dream World Theatre

We are Dream World Theatre, we are a strand of Garvald Edinburgh’s performance workshop. We make work that is (sometimes) loud, surreal and proud.  We made Clown Town- it is our newest, finest work. Clown Town is a show for a real live audience. It’s about getting things a bit wrong and a bit right. It’s about glitter and sweatbands and things that are too sexy for your cat. And dentistry. Tonight we meet The Magician, Mr Sweetie, The Assistant and The Dentist….

Toni Jerrett

Toni is using a mixture of spoken word and physical performance to portray her reaction to the current news cycle surrounding women and the #MeToo movement.

Visit their website


Plus win yourself some prizes in our raffle and auction, hosted by Creative Electric’s resident queens Chanel and Nick. Internationally celebrated bingo hosts-their credits include the nightly show on Seaman Ships, showgirls at Haggerston Castle and an ad campaign for Poundland. As renowned gold diggers, they’re experts in persuading punters to part with their cash. But this time they’ll be doing it all in the name of BOP and gold plated wheelchairs!

Get your hands on goodies from: Tron Theatre, Lyceum Theatre, Capital Theatres, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Nairns Oatcakes, Pickering’s Gin, West Beer, Valhalla’s Goat, Greggs, Dear Green Coffee, Rockstar Games PLUS MORE


The event will be BSL interpreted, audio described and have a live electronic note taker.

Due to the content of some performances and the raffle prizes this event is for people aged 18+


What are my transport/parking options for getting to and from the event?

  • On-street parking in the local streets will be available.
  • The nearest Subway train station is Bridge Street. This is a 3-minute walk from Deaf Connection. Exit onto Eglinton Street and take the first right onto Norfolk Street.
  • The nearest train station is either Glasgow Central or Argyle Street. Both are a 10-minute walk or 3-minute taxi journey to Deaf Connections.

What access provisions does the venue have?

  • Level access entrance is around the back of the building – this will be clearly signposted.
  • There is an accessible bathroom.
  • Additional access information will be available on our website closer to the event.

BOP turns 25 – August: Alasdair Gray

BOP is turning 25 this year – to celebrate we have been in conversation with some of the key figures who have helped to make the company what it is.

Alasdair Gray is one of Scotland’s most prolific and iconic creatives. As an author he has written book, plays and poetry – his totemic novel Lanark was recently adapted for the stage by Citizens Theatre and Edinburgh International Festival. As an artist he has built up a hugely acclaimed collection of drawings and paintings; a retrospective of his work was exhibited at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum in 2014. His play Working Legs was written for BOP in 1998.