Make It Accessible

A series of online events exploring different ways to improve accessibility

ABOUT MAKE IT ACCESSIBLE

Make it Accessible was a series of online presentations born out of the sudden reduction in creative activity, that came as a result of March 2020 national lockdown.

During this time, there were a lot of conversations about what the future of the theatre industry could look like and many people spoke about a desire of not wanting to return to “normal”. This was, in part, because many people still experience multiple barriers when engaing with theatre – either as an audience member, or as a performer or other kind of theatre professional.

The idea behind Make it Accessible, was to create a platform where we could share our knowledge around making things more accessible (on and off stage) for people, but also creating a space where we could invite other professionals to share their own learning too.

Make it Accessible was aimed at anybody who had an interest in creating accessible work, whether they were an artist, actor, dancer, director, producer, writer, choreographer or designer. All levels of experience were welcome and all events were free to attend. All events also had live captions and BSL translations.

After the first session, we used feedback forms to dictate the themes for the subsequent events. The titles of each event were:

  • Make it Accesible 1
  • Make it Accesible 2: Case Studies
  • Make it Accesible 3: What is a Relaxed event
  • Make it Accesible 4: Finding your audience
  • Make it Accesible 5: Beyond Scotland

You can find our more about each event further down this page.

Make is Accessible was facillitated by BOP and Andy Edwards, Andy is a theatre-maker, playwright and dramaturg whose work includes “In Burrows” – an improvised duet with Sign Language Interpreter Amy Cheskin.

Andy Edwards bio

Andy Edwards is a playwright whose recent plays include Gorbals (BBC Radio 4), Happy Ark Day 🙂 (National Theatre of Scotland & BBC Scotland) and Swan Song (Chatting Tanum). As dramaturg, Andy’s work includes mentoring for Lung Ha Theatre Company, co-coordinating Make It Accessible with Birds of Paradise and script surgeries for Tron Theatre. Andy leads the research project Talking Dramaturgy and is a reviewer for both Exeunt Magazine and Neon Books.

Website: www.andynedwards.com

What people said:

“Thank you so much for organising today’s event. The presentation’s were great! I’m sorry I couldn’t stay longer. Please pass on my thanks to the contributors.”

“Just wanted to say I think the work you’re doing here is really vital and that it’s very much appreciated. We’re finding it really tricky to have lost so much contact from pals and the sector at large, so the opportunity to hear from people on a key subject at a critical time feels really important.”

WHAT DID WE LEARN

Once the series of workshops had been completed, we asked Andy to review the content from each session and create a filmed presentation that evaluates what we learned from the process.

Rather than provide a summary of each of the events, this presentation is a compilation of short clips from our invited speakers. Brought together, these clips draw connections across the entirety of Make It Accessible, highlighting the main ideas and questions that were explored. 

This presentation is split into four themed subsections:

  • The first explores the role of d/Deaf and disabled-led innovation in making accessible work.
  • The second considers what allyship means within the role of d/Deaf and disabled-led innovation in making accessible work.
  • The third highlights an unresolved tension between artists needing both guidelines towards making accessible work as well as opportunities to experiment, make mistakes and learn through practice.
  • The fourth focuses upon how making accessible work challenges and shifts attitudes of both disabled and non-disabled audiences and artists.

If you would like to watch these specific sections, the timestamps to skip to for each section are as follows:

Section HeadingTime Code
Introduction00:00
Theme 1: Innovation from d/Deaf & Disabled Artists02:30
Theme 2: Allyship and Access11:40
Theme 3: Exploration verus Instruction21:52
Theme 4: Changing Attitudes29:10
Some Tips for Making Accessible Work37:17

ABOUT THE EVENTS

In this section you can use the drop down menus to learn more about each event.

Within each section you will find an agenda for the event, which outlines who was speaking and what they were speaking about.

For most of the events there is a recording and a transcript available, however due to technical issues, they are are not available for every event. For this we apologise. Each video includes the BSL translaters who were working at the event.

Make it Accessible 1: April 24th

This conversation was hosted by Birds of Paradise and facilitated by Andy Edwards.

AGENDA

2.00 PM : Introductions (10 mins)

  • Welcome to session + introduce house rules. *Everyone Together*
  • Introduction from Birds of Paradise, explaining their intention in hosting this conversation and their motivation for inviting Andy to facilitate it.

2.10 PM : Part One: How do you make accessible work? (40 mins)

  • Question 1: Who are you? What work do you make?
  • Question 2: What does making “accessible theatre” mean to you, and to your practice?

*Breakout to discuss Q1 + Q2*
*Come back together to feed back from both groups + introduce Q3* 

  • Question 3: How would – or does – a more inclusive approach change the way you work? (in logistical, financial, creative, production terms)

*Breakout to discuss Q3*

2.50 PM : Tea Break (10 mins)

3.00 PM : Part Two: How can we support your practice? (40 mins) *Everyone Together; briefly summarise and introduce Q1*

  • Question 1: What barriers do you encounter when making accessible work? Are they practical, financial, creative, societal?  *Breakout to discuss Q1* 
  • Question 2: What support do you need to overcome these barriers? How can Birds of Paradise help? *Feedback both groups together and discuss Q2 as one (it might make sense to set Future Actions before rounding up with Q3?)*
  • Question 3: What’s missing from this conversation? If we were to meet again, what needs to be discussed? *This could be directed into the post-conversation questionnaire, if there are a number of outstanding Questions in the chat?*

3.40 PM : Set Future Actions (10 mins) *Everyone Together*

  • Based on the discussion, BOP / Andy will write a list of potential future actions to support artists making accessible work. This will be shared with the group following the end-of-session.

3.50 PM : Wrap-up (10 mins) *Everyone Together*

  • Thank people for taking part.
  • Direct people to Google Questionnaire Feedback Form, which contains further opportunity to offer thoughts and opinions.
  • Supplementary information on accessible theatre-making will be made available.

Read a summary of the key points from the meeting:


Read a transcript of the whole meeting:

Make it Accessible 2: Case Studies - May 28th

Following Make It Accessible #1, the first meeting of our working group, we invited four arts practitioners to present case studies about accessibility within their work. These case studies will consider a range of topics, from the integration of access within performance to the accessibility of entire festivals. 

AGENDA

14:00: Introductions & Re-cap last session: Welcome to session & introduce house rules. (5 mins)

14:05: Case Study 1: ‘Off-Kilter’ with Andy Arnold (Tron Theatre) & Ramesh Meyyappan (10 mins)

14:15: Q&A with Andy & Ramesh (15 mins)

14:30: Case Study 2: ‘Sherlock’ with Alyson Woodhouse (10 mins)

14:40: Q&A with Alyson (15 mins)

14:55: Tea Break (10 mins)

15:05: Case Study 3: ‘In Burrows’ with Andy Edwards & Amy Cheskin (10 mins)

15:15: Q&A with Andy & Amy (15 mins)

15:30: Case Study 4: ‘Arika‘ with Bryony McIntrye (10 mins)

15:40: Q&A with Bryony (15 mins)

15:55: Wrap up
        – Ask for suggestions for future sessions
        – Direct people to Google Questionnaire Feedback Form
        – Any supplementary information on case studies will be made available.

16:00: End

This video has BSL and you can turn on the captions option from YouTube to access the captions.

We apologise that the first few minutes of this event were not recorded.

Read a transcript of the whole meeting:

Information on Contributors:

Andy & Ramesh – ‘Off-kilter’

Ramesh Meyyappan is a theatre maker who develops performances using an eclectic mix of visual and physical theatre styles.  Andy Arnold is Artistic Director of Tron Theatre and was previously the Founder and Artistic Director of The Arches.  He likes to direct an eclectic range of work. Andy and Ramesh will discuss visual work they have made and plan to make and how they have formed a way of making theatre together on stage.

Alyson – ‘Sherlock’

Alyson Woodhouse is a blind, freelance director and dramaturg with particular interest and experience in adapting classic texts to make them accessible for blind and deaf audiences. Through sharing her experiences of adapting a Sherlock Holmes short story, Alyson will explore methods of including Audio Description and BSL into the narrative of a text.

Andy & Amy – ‘In Burrows’

Andy Edwards is a playwright and theatre-maker who makes work about language. Amy Cheskin is a sign-language interpreter with experience in interpretation for stage. Andy & Amy will discuss their experiences of working together, and what they’ve learned from their approach to integrating BSL interpretation within improvised performance.

Bryony McIntyre – ‘Arika’

Bryony McIntyre is a member of Arika a political arts organisation concerned with celebrating and supporting connections between artistic production and social change. Bryony will give a short presentation looking at access methods and interventions Arika have experimented with since their Episode 7: We Can’t Live Without Our Lives event at Tramway in 2015. 

(Left – Right) Ramesh Meyyappan in Off Kilter, image by Niall Walker / Amy Cheskin and Andy Edwards in In Burrows, image Julia Bauer / Bryony McIntyre

Make it Accessible 3: What is a Relaxed performance? - July 9th

This video has BSL and you can turn on the captions option from YouTube to access the captions.

The topic of this event was chosen because in Scotland there is currently no uniform definition of “Relaxed performance”. This term can apply to performances that: allow audience noise and movement; have reduced sensory stimulus; are for adults and babies; are for people with dementia; provide ear defenders and sunglasses; provide a quiet space; are staffed by front of house who have been given autism awareness training. The varied ways in which this term is applied makes it difficult for audiences to make an informed decision about which events will remove barriers for them. 

AGENDA

2:00 PM: Andy & Morna introduce session

2:05 PM: Presentation 1: Emma McCaffrey & Graham Eatough in conversation about ‘The Reason I Jump(National Theatre of Scotland)

2:15 PM: Presentation 2: Jonathan Carlton on an audience member’s perspective of a Relaxed Performance [Pre-recorded]

2:25 PM: Break (5 Minutes)

2:30 PM: Presentation 3: Kelsie Acton (Inclusive Practice Manager, Battersea Arts Centre) will speak about innovations in the form of relaxed performance from two disabled-led companies in Canada; CRIPSiE in their performance of ‘Careful’ and Ophira Calof in ‘Literally Titanium’.

2:40 PM: Presentation 4: Ink Asher Hemp, neurodivergent poet and performer will consider the question “Relaxed performances belong to us. What do we need in a space and how do we build that?”

2:50 PM: Break (10 Minutes)

3:00 PM: Discussion Groups facilitated by Ellie Griffiths (Artistic Director, Oily Cart) and Harry Josephine Giles

3:25 PM: Break (5 Minutes)

3:30 PM: Continuation of Discussion Groups.

3:50 PM: Andy & Morna Wrap up
        – Ask for suggestions for future sessions
        – Direct people to Google Questionnaire Feedback Form
        – Any supplementary information on case studies will be made available.

4:00 PM: End.

Not all questions were brought up in the discussion groups but below are the questions submitted by attendees:

  1. Relaxed performances often have quieter sound effects. If you are producing a relaxed performance where gunshots or loud sounds are required so the story makes sense, how do you overcome this obstacle?
  2. How can we more articulately write the essential need for any access costs into our future project applications? We have been unsuccessful in the past with an application for an access budget for our events for young people via Creative Scotland Access/Diversity Funds.
  3. Is it a problem if relaxed spaces (say as part of a festival) end up being used by people who aren’t neurodiverse? Is this something that needs to be managed?
  4. How is creating a ‘Relaxed Performance’ of my show likely to change the lighting design? What sort of things should I be thinking about?
  5. If you are a theatre maker – what are the main barriers to you making a Relaxed performance?
  6. How do I market a Relaxed Performance in a way that will reach – and is accessible to – neurodiverse audiences?
  7. Who should I speak to if I want advice on how to make a Relaxed Performance of my show? What should I pay them?
  8. Is it possible to tour Relaxed Performances outside of major venues? E.g. Rural touring?
  9. How could creating a Relaxed Performance affect how I tell stories?
  10. I can’t afford to make my event as Relaxed as e.g. Disney’s Lion King, what are the key factors I should think about when working with a limited budget?

Make it Accessible 4: Finding Your Audience - Sep 10th

This video has BSL and you can turn on the captions option from YouTube to access the captions.

Read a transcript of the whole meeting:

Our previous Make It Accessible online events have taught us that there are lots of people interested in making accessible work, and that there are many examples of innovative practice throughout Scotland. Following our last event, we’ve received many questions about how to develop relationships with disabled audiences, and how to translate the accessibility of your work into the accessibility of its promotion. 

We don’t have all the answers, but we want to bring people together to share their experiences and discuss your questions. For Make It Accessible #4, we’ve invited case studies in audience development and marketing campaigns, focused on high-profile disability-led work. We will be hosting presentations from Ramps on the Moon, Take Me Somewhere and ourselves, Birds of Paradise. See below for more detail on what these presentations will contain.

AGENDA:

2:00 PMAndy & BOP introduce session
2:05 PMPresentation 1: Ramps on the Moon
2:25 PMPresentation 2: Take Me Somewhere
2:45 PMPresentation 3: Birds of Paradise
3:00 PMBreak (10 Minutes)
3:10 PMQ&A Panel with Presenters, facilitated by Andy & BOP
3:30 PMBreak (5 Minutes)
3:35 PM  Continuation of Q&A Panel
4:00 PMBreak (5 Minutes)
4:05 PM Open discussion: The Q&A panel will end but we will keep the Zoom open for further discussion.
4:25 PM Wrap up:
– Ask for suggestions for future sessions
– Direct people to Google Questionnaire Feedback Form
– Any supplementary information on case studies will be made available.
4:30 PMEnd of session.

Read a bit more about each presentation below

Ramps on the Moon:

We will talk about our experience of marketing the Ramps shows, the decisions we’ve taken around messaging those shows in terms of the company and the access provision. We’ll talk about what’s worked in this choice to market disabled talent ‘by stealth’ and what’s been a challenge. We will also reflect on how this has impacted on partners’ other Mainstage and studio programming.

Take Me Somewhere:

Take Me Somewhere will talk about our approach to accessible marketing for an experimental performance festival as an act of hospitality, including creating user friendly, playful and stylised methods for sharing access information and building audiences. Key points will include maintaining brand identity, using multiple communication methods and the importance of developing trust over time.

Birds of Paradise:

Using our 2018 production of My Left Right Foot – The Musical as a case study – will speak about the outreach and engagement work we conducted during the development of it show, and about materials and resources we produced for audiences that sat alongside the piece.

Make it Accessible 5: Beyond Scotland - Oct 29th

This video has BSL and you can turn on the captions option from YouTube to access the captions.

Our Make It Accessible online events have taught us that there are lots of people interested in making accessible work, and that there are many examples of innovative practice throughout Scotland. The next Make It Accessible is guided by two questions: What’s happening elsewhere? What can we learn from the work of others?

We don’t have all the answers, but we want to bring people together to share their experiences and discuss these questions. For Make It Accessible #5, we’ve invited artists based overseas, and locally-based artists with significant experience of international touring, to share their work with you. Presenters include Chisato Minamimura, discussing her digital solo performance Scored in Silence, and Brazilian performer and producer Paula Souza Lopez, reflecting upon the impact of the ‘new normal’ on accessible practice. 

Following the presentations, we will host an open discussion for everyone who attends. This space is for you to ask questions, reflect on the presentations and discuss your own work. We will be on hand to guide this conversation and ensure everyone who wishes to partake can do so.

AGENDA

2:00 PMAndy & BOP introduce session
2:05 PMPresentation 1: Chisato Minamimura
2:20 PMPresentation 2: Paula Souza Lopez
2:35 PMBreak (5 Minutes)
2:40 PMPresentation 3: Claire Cunningham
2:55 PMPresentation 4: Barak adé Soleil 
3:10 PMBreak (10 Minutes)
3:20 PMOpen discussion: session 1
3:35 PMBreak (5 Minutes)
3:40 PMOpen discussion: session 2
3:55 PMWrap up
4:00 PMEnd of session