What We Do

(skip to our definition of ‘disabled’)

What is BOP?

Purposeless Movements (2016) Flyer

Birds of Paradise is a theatre company based in Scotland that was founded in 1993 – you can find out more about the history of the company on this page. Below is our vision and purpose – this sets out who we are and what we intend to do over the next few years. Through our work and activity we want to help bring about positive change in the theatre and arts in Scotland and further afield. We do this by making theatre, creating opportunities for others to make theatre or develop as artists and by working with other arts organisations.

Our Vision

Birds of Paradise Theatre’s artistic vision is of a culture where disabled artists are recognised for the excellence of their work, celebrated for the stories that they bring to the stage and are a vital part of 
the artistic landscape of Scotland.

Our Purpose

…is to be an accessible arts company that produces world-class productions and projects that place disabled artists centre stage and to develop future generations of disabled artists. BOP believes that disabled people continue to experience a lack of equality and considerable barriers within society, including the arts. Our work exists in part to challenge and address these.

We are the only professional, disability-led theatre company in Scotland and we exist to:

  • make world-class, innovative and accessible work that embeds Creative Access and is made by disabled and non-disabled artists, writers and theatre-makers drawn from diverse cultures to reach a wide demographic nationally and internationally
  • play a key strategic role in Scotland’s theatre ecology and wider arts industry by supporting the sector to nurture the next generation of disabled artists, performers and audiences through addressing barriers to opportunities and involving disabled people in these processes

We work across three key areas:

BOP Theatre

  • New productions/co-productions with key partners
  • Tours and retours
  • Pioneering Creative Access
  • Development of digital work
  • Wraparound activity
  • Audience development
  • New opportunities for disabled professionals

BOP Development

  • BOP Artists – discovering and developing new artists – actors, directors, writers
  • BOP Young Artists – Providing development opportunities for young disabled people
  • Online resources

BOP Strategic

  • Training and consultation – our expertise purchased by others
  • Proactive events – offered to the sector through training and sessions where we or partners identify need
  • Partnerships – across the sector
  • Access Scottish Theatre guide

A note on terminology – what do we mean?

What does BOP mean when it uses disabled? BOP uses the term ‘disabled people’ or ‘disabled artists’ to refer to anyone who self-identifies as disabled. This can include D/deaf people if they identify as disabled as well as others living with impairments (physical, sensory, learning, cognitive, mental health, etc) that identify as disabled. BOP uses the Social Model of Disability and recognises that some people experience disabling barriers.

Some D/deaf people may not identify as disabled. BOP recognise that three predominant terms are used with regards to deafness – ‘Deaf’, ‘deaf’ and ‘D/deaf’. To be deaf (small d) means you have a hearing loss but you do not identify as part of the Deaf Community. Generally deaf people use oral communication. They may have some knowledge of SSE (sign supported English) but this does not make them culturally deaf.

Deaf – with a capital “D” – is used to refer to people who are culturally Deaf. These people actively use British Sign Language or Scottish Sign Language; they see themselves as being culturally Deaf and part of the Deaf community.

D/deaf is used to refer to both groups of people and on occasion we will use this distinctly from disabled. However, in most of our work when we use the term disabled we are also thinking about D/deaf people.

Non-disabled is the antonym of disabled and as such BOP never uses ‘able-bodied’, which is a term that ignores the fact that many disabled people face barriers that do not relate to their bodies. (source: BBC Ouch)

We aim to be a dynamic theatre company. To address our vision and purpose we will adopt a Demonstrate and Support model that allows us to plan our work strategically, to be leaders and to influence others.

Demonstrate the excellence of disabled artists and performers by creating and co-creating high quality theatre productions and projects and show how the application of Creative Access can transform theatre aesthetics
Support the sector to develop its policies and practices to include and involve disabled artists, performers and audiences and to work with Creative Access

From now to 2021 we will work to meet the following outcomes:

  1. More people in more places (including rural and international communities) experience and have their perceptions changed through theatre by disabled people.
  2. People have increased access to a wider range of stories on stage.
  3. More disabled people have access to a full range of opportunities in the sector.
  4. People in the sector are more confident, skilled and knowledgeable about equalities.

My Left/Right Foot – The Musical 2019. Image by Mihaela Bodlovic