Kaite O’Reilly is a UK-based playwright and theatre maker who works internationally in disability arts and culture and so-called ‘mainstream’ culture. Her award-winning plays and performance work are innovative in form, aesthetics, and content, often experimenting with what she calls ‘alternative dramaturgies informed by a d/Deaf and disability perspective’ (embedded audio-description, bilingualism with spoken/visual languages, etc).
A self-identifying ‘crip’ and disability artist, awards include The Ted Hughes Award for New Works in Poetry (Persians, National Theatre Wales), The Peggy Ramsay Award (Yard, Bush Theatre, Theatre-Wales Award (peeling, Graeae Theatre Company). Her critically acclaimed plays on difference and disability Atypical Plays for Atypical Actors are published by Oberon.
Photo by Ace McCarron
Jo Shapland and Phillip Zarrilli in 'Told by the Wind', The Llanarth Group
Co-created with Kaite O'Reilly.
Photo by Farrows Creative
Sara Beer as Maureen in 'Cosy'
She collaborates with Phillip Zarrilli of The Llanarth Group, who directed Cosy (2016), and the 9 Fridas (with Mobius Strip Theatre, Taiwan, in association with Hong Kong Repertory Company, 2014/2016). With Zarrilli and Jo Shapland, she co-created Told by the Wind for The Llanarth Group, which has toured extensively (Evora Festival, Portugal; Grotowski Institute, Poland; Dance Center, Chicago, USA; Theatre Babylon, Tokyo, Japan). This 60 minute dance-theatre explores the aesthetics of Quietude, and is available for further touring.
As fellow of international research centre ‘Interweaving Performance Cultures’ at Freie Universitat in Berlin, she is reflecting on her practice, exploring how distinctive Deaf and disability cultures operate with, against, and/or in opposition to ‘mainstream’ or ‘dominant’ cultural paradigms. She is the patron of Disability Arts Cymru and DaDa (Disability arts Deaf arts), and the editor of ‘FACE ON: Disability Arts in Ireland and Beyond’ (Arts Disability Ireland).
Duration: 2 hours including interval
Number of people on road: 10, including cast, tech, stage management team, writer and director
Freight: Freight necessary
11 x chairs
5 x suitcases (costumes/props)
“It’s like I’ve disappeared. I walk down the road and throw no shadow.”
“That’s what getting older does for you.”
Ageing is a lesson in humility - a time of reckoning. Rose wants an exit plan that is bold and invigorating, but her warring daughters have other ideas. Rose’s tumbledown house is suddenly a terminus of age-old sibling rivalry and smothered grief. We all have to die, but what makes a good death? Everyone seems to have an opinion, even Rose's precocious granddaughter and the strange woman taking refuge in the garden. Cosy is a darkly comedic look at the joys and humiliations of getting older and how we shuffle off this mortal coil. It tackles head-on our obsession with eternal youth, and asks whose life (or death) is it, anyway?
"Are you sitting cosy?" is a series of wrap-around events to conincide with the production. Through discussion, pre/post show talks and additional events, we plan to tackle some of the key themes in the play, including ageing, agency for women as they get older, and end of life scenarios.
Told by the Wind
Duration: 60 minutes
Number of people on road: 4: 2 performers, lighting designer, dramaturg
Freight: Excess baggage
...at a threshold...two figures...two lives...multiple time spaces
TOLD BY THE WIND is a new performance of movement and text that 'dances' an inner landscape. The performance invites the audience to enter an imaginative space of possibilities.
"...Beckettian magnetic poetry...Each dances the other's absence. Both are beautiful movers..." CHICAGO TIME OUT
Practical workshops on writing for performance, including 'alternative dramaturgies informed by a d/Deaf and disability perspective'.
Public talks on the UK's disability arts and culture, and lecture demonstartions of her work between disability culture and mainstream culture, and Deaf culture and hearing culture.
Press Comments & Testimonials
'O'Reilly is a writer to cherish.' Lyn Gardner. The Guardian
'Kaite O’Reilly is a poet of the human condition, a singer of temporal lapses, gaps, translations, missed connections and joyful vibrancy.' Petra Kuppers, crip poet and Disability studies scholar. Professor, University of Michigan, artistic director of The Olimpias.
'Cosy is a tender meditation on the value of life... Kaite O’ Reilly proves yet again why she is amongst Britain’s best playwrights.' Jafar Iqbal The Western Mail
‘This production stirs and questions our ideals of life and death in a beautiful and sensitive manner. It will make your heart pump and your belly shake. A thought-provoking night that is not to be missed.’ Denis Lennon Art Scene in Wales
On Told by the Wind
'...hypnotic... a haunting, painterly beauty...[with] the astringent purity of a haiku poem.' **** The Guardian
'...perfection in movement, text, staging... a beautifully contemplative sixty minutes..' British Theatre Guide
On Atypical Plays for Atypical Actors:
'O’Reilly’s Atypical Plays present opportunities for disabled artists to occupy the stage and challenge audiences' assumptions about disability and difference... These texts portray disabled characters as sexy, active and wilful beings in empowering and provocative stories, cutting against the grain of the trope for most blockbusters of stage and screen... Together the five plays make essential reading, both for educational purposes and pleasure.' Disability Arts Online
'Kaite O’Reilly is a vital and angry voice in the theatre, and Atypical Plays for Atypical Actors is an important,provocative contribution, not only to the theatre of disability (a term I suspect O’Reilly would loathe), but to twenty-first century theatre as a whole.' Liz Jones New Welsh Review