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Ways of Watching: Five Aesthetics of Learning Disability Theatre

Reason, Matthew ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0536-4236 (2018) Ways of Watching: Five Aesthetics of Learning Disability Theatre. In: Hadley, Bree and McDonald, Donna, (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Disability Arts, Culture and Media. Routledge

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Abstract

Over the last couple of decades, theatre and dance by performers with learning disabilities has progressively moved from the domains of the therapeutic or community orientated to that of art. The movement is marked by a shift in venues (from private facilities or community halls to ‘mainstream’ theatres), a shift in funders, and – perhaps most fundamentally of all – a shift in audiences.

In this chapter, I examine the relationship between the concept of spectatorship and theatres of learning disability, before applying this concept to the messier practice of audiencing. I draw upon interview material with learning disabled performers and other practitioners working in the field, alongside research with audiences to learning disabled theatre. These discourses are used to explore questions of quality, judgement, acts of looking and interpreting as the chapter considers the thorny issue of whether there is a distinct form of aesthetic looking that is invited by learning disabled theatre. While this possibility has the appeal of disrupting normative forms of performance, it also risks recapitulating problematic forms of looking at Otherness. In response to this risk, I propose a nuanced typology of the aesthetic positions – or ways of watching – that audiences adopt in relation to learning disability theatre.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: "This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge inThe Routledge Handbook of Disability Arts, Culture and Media on 12/12/2018 available online: https://www.routledge.com/The-Routledge-Handbook-of-Disability-Arts-Culture-and-Media-1st-Edition/Hadley-McDonald/p/book/9780815368410”
Status: Published
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
School/Department: School of Performance & Media Production
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/4468

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