The international work of the company has been developing over many years, with visits to Holland, Brazil and Rwanda to deliver workshops and presentations on our work and methods. Our profile on Disability Arts International can be viewed here.

International Work

During the past three years there has been a dramatic increase in the demand from international partners to see work by disabled artists. Much of this is seen as strategic work within countries and cultures looking to advance disability equality and seeing culture as a way to do this. As creators of high quality work we have been ideally placed to capitalise on these opportunities. Working closely with the British Council our two Artistic leaders earned recognition in international circles as speakers and innovators in disability arts. When combined with the impact of the company’s early work we were quickly in demand for overseas touring, mentoring and development.

This led to us creating two new shows overseas Urod: The Last Show (2016) in Siberia at the Skomorokh Puppet Theatre working with the Skomorokh Company and Deaf Theatre Group Indigo – the show is still in the theatre’s repertoire and received a Moscow Golden Mask Theatre Award Nomination – and in Hong Kong and Glasgow a major experimental digital work as part of the Shakespeare Lives Festival Miranda and Caliban: The Making of a Monster (2016). The work in Hong Kong has enabled us to build long-term relationships with Arts for the Disabled Hong Kong, The British Council and Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts.

We also began a long term project developing D/deaf and disabled work in the Netherlands and we also toured Wendy Hoose to Spain in 2016.

In early 2018 we were undertaking work in Mexico and Rwanda on behalf of the British Council. In Mexico, outgoing Artistic Director Garry Robson we delivering training alongside BOP friend Kinny Gardner.

A photograph of Garry Robson and Kinny Gardner. They are in front of a banner that says 'British Council: Arts'. Garry is a white, middle aged bald man in a wheelchair. He has a pair of sunglasses on his head and is wearing a blue zipped up hoodie. Kerry also appears to be white and middle aged. He has short white hair. He is wearing blue trousers, a white T shirt with a face printed on it and a dark blue denim jacket.

Garry and Kinny Gardner in Mexico on behalf of British Council Mexico

Actions that participants identified included

  • Educate and Facilitate artists, curators, directors and producers on the themes of creative access.
  • Facilitate the conditions to have more diverse audiences at the Festival Oxymoron.
  • Contribute to the change to the established paradigm of attitudes to disabled people.
  • Revise the clarity of presentation of my projects for disabled audiences.
  • Include sign in our standard presentations (performances and projects).
  • Encourage change.
  • Improve our work for blind audiences.
  • Include disabled people in our creative workforce.
  • Make sure that access solutions are included in our creative projects and in the place we work.
  • I have had a big re-think about the basis of our working practice and can see the simple changes from the outset that will allow success later on.
  • I will speak to my organisation and look at the important relationships we have with the people we come into contact with.
  • Implement and look after the distinct needs to be included in our improvisation projects and our works.
  • Learn sign language.
  • Devise opportunities to see other perspectives.
  • Inspire the other people we can work with.
  • Begin to validate, whether the project is a collective or an individual one.
  • Organise the creation of a choreographic piece with awareness of the necessary access needs.
  • Work on the same piece with one person with different abilities to see as many new
    perspectives as possible.
  • Ferment a culture of acceptance of people with different abilities and investigate how to work with them.
  • To build a network of possible sponsors (private or public) of disability and access projects.
  • To organise all the people and institutions necessary to produce a Mexican version of Wendy Hoose with BoP.
  • To lay the basis of a Mexican Unlimited!
  • Maintain a punk attitude towards life, contradiction and learning and be honest about who I am.
  • Lyrics projects on screen.
  • Audio description for all the plays.
  • Walking around the theatre checking accessibility.
  • Apply creative access to communicate project with a dose of black humour.
  • Apply creative access to my next live cinema work and make it in a creative and inclusive way

In early February 2018, BOP were supported by the British Council 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).

Click here to read the BOP Rwanda Evaluation report – February 2018

Robert Softley Gale (Artistic Director), Mairi Taylor (Executive Producer) and Rachel Drazek (Freelance Movement Artist) from Birds of Paradise Theatre Company were engaged to provide 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.

A photo of two people leaning against each other in a dance. One is a young black man in a black sports top and shorts and the other appears to be a white man with short brown hair wearing glasses and a blue polo shirt.