Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017: Disability Arts International’s picks

As the Edinburgh Festival Fringe prepares to celebrate its 70th anniversary, Disability Arts International presents a selection of its recommendations from the theatre and dance programme at the 2017 festival.


Click here for an audio-described version of Edinburgh Fringe Film.

Ramps on the Moon: Inclusive theatre transforming mainstream organisations

Ramps on the Moon, funded by Arts Council England's Strategic Touring Fund, is a consortium of six 'mainstream' regional theatres, supported by disabled-led Graeae Theatre Company. It aims to open up the participating institutions to disabled people as artists and audiences. Ramps on the Moon produces large-scale productions of existing musicals with integrated casts and creative use of access features. Learn how Ramps on the Moon hopes to transform not only the partner organisations, but the theatre sector more generally.  

Click here for an audio described version of the Ramps on the Moon film.

Artists in Conversation: Liz Carr

Actor, comedian and disability rights activist, Liz Carr talks about her Unlimited-commissioned theatre production, Assisted Suicide the Musical. This ‘TED Talk with show tunes’ explores the serious issue of assisted suicide but through the glitz and mischief of a modern musical. Carr uses that  musical form as a metaphor for the ‘clap-along’ nature of the assisted suicide debate.

Click here for a text-based audio description of the Liz Carr film.

In Conversation with John McGrath

Manchester International Festival’s Artistic Director, John McGrath has been a long-term collaborator with disabled artists and disability-led companies. John shares his thoughts on the artists who have most influenced both his own way of working and the wider arts ecology. 

Click here for a text-based audio description of the John McGrath film.

Artists in Conversation: Oliver MacDonald

In the first of our Artists in Conversation series, we speak to sculptor and conceptual artist, Oliver MacDonald, recipient of the 2016/17 Adam Reynold’s Memorial Bursary (ARMB), organised by Shape Arts. The prize includes a three-month residency at Turner Contemporary, Margate between February and April 2017. MacDonald discusses his ideas for the residency and his practice, with input from CEO of Shape Arts, Tony Heaton and Director of Turner Contemporary, Victoria Pomery.
Shape Arts set up the ARMB in memory of the life and work of Sculptor Adam Reynolds. It is designed to support a mid-career disabled artist or artists, looking to develop their practice and build their profile by offering funds and a three-month residency at a high-profile arts venue.

Click here for a text-based audio description of the Oliver MacDonald film

Jess Thom on accessibility and Dublin Theatre Festival 2016

Jess Thom aka Touretteshero talks to Niamh Ní Chonchubhair, programmer at axis: Ballymun about ‘Backstage in Biscuit Land,’ the importance of presenting high quality arts and disability work on our stages and on increasing accessibility for everyone to theatre.  Presented at Dublin Theatre Festival 2016 by Arts & Disability Ireland and axis:Ballymun with funding from Arts Council, Ireland and British Council.

For a version without audio description and English captions version visit here

Three Adventures in Accessible Music Technology (AMT)

Accessible Music Technology (AMT) is on the cusp of moving from holding a niche place within music-making to becoming a part of a bigger mainstream practice and disabled artists are at the forefront of creating innovative new ways of making music using technology.

This is a short film, lasting eight minutes, which explores three musicians’ experience of using AMT to enhance their music-making. The film follows Kris Halpin, John Kelly and Clarence Adoo as they talk about their individual approaches to music and explain how they use cutting-edge initiatives in AMT to create music and deliver live performances.

For a text-based audio description please click here



Disabled Leaders in Dance

How are disabled dance artists challenging the world of contemporary dance? Who are the disabled choreographers at the foreground of artistic innovation? Why is it important that disabled dance artists author their own work as choreographers and artistic leaders?

These are just some of the questions explored by Emma Gladstone, Artistic Director of London’s Dance Umbrella, as she talks to dancers, choreographers and artistic programmers from the UK and overseas.


Brief description:

Emma Gladstone (Artistic Director of Dance Umbrella) discusses contemporary dance that includes disabled dancers or is created by disabled choreographers, with Janice Parker (artist), Claire Cunningham (artist), Dan Daw (artist) and Honne Dohrmann (Director of Tanzmainz, Germany). The montage includes performances by Damien Jalet, Scottish Dance Theatre, Lea Anderson, Candoco Dance Company, Marc Brew, Ballet Cymru, Alexander Whitley, Project O, Jo Fong, Igor and Moreno, David Toole, Lucy Hind and Remix Dance Company.

There are four interviews intercut with footage of rehearsals and performance:

  • Janice Parker works with disabled dancers in Barcelona
  • Claire Cunningham talks to camera in a rehearsal studio
  • Claire performs in Give Me a Reason to Live
  • Dan Daw speaks to Emma Gladstone in the Wales Millennium Centre
  • Dan performs in Beast
  • Honne Dohrmann in conversation is intercut with scenes from Beheld by Alexander Whitley and Candoco Dance Company.

For full audio description text please follow this link.

An introduction to Deaf and disabled arts in the UK

Garry Robson (Fittings Multimedia Arts), Tony Heaton (Shape) and Jenny Sealey (Graeae Theatre Company) provide valuable insights into the context in which UK Deaf and disabled artists have emerged to become key international names. 

The film shows three different interviews: 

  • Garry Robson is in a theatre and talking to camera on stage. His interview is intercut with footage from DaDaFest International and Graeae's production of The Threepenny Opera
  • Tony Heaton is in his office at Shape Arts and his interview is intercut with scenes of Caroline Bowditch in rehearsal and various artworks in situ
  • Jenny Sealey is in her office at Graeae and her interview is intercut with scenes of Fingersmiths in rehearsal with speaking and signing actors, and various artworks and books at the Graeae studios.

A film commissioned by the British Council. You can view the complete transcript for this film.

Arts and disability in Scotland

Jori Kerremans (Scottish Dance Theatre), Claire Cunningham (artist), Maggie Maxwell (Creative Scotland), Caroline Bowditch (artist) and Robert Softley (artist) uncover the infrastructure that has helped nurture Scottish artists to mainstream international success.

The film features five different interviews:

  • Jori Kerremans in his office at Dundee Rep, intercut with scenes of Scottish countryside and internal and external space at Dundee Rep Theatre 
  • Claire Cunningham in a small rehearsal room with piano, intercut with street scenes in Glasgow and footage of Claire dancing with crutches on upturned tea cups placed on the floor 
  • Maggie Maxwell in her office Creative Scotland, intercut with city street scenes and Caroline Bowditch in rehearsal in a dance studio
  • Caroline Bowditch speaking from a dance studio, intercut with her in rehearsal with two other dancers and Glasgow street scenes showing painted murals
  • Robert Softley talking from rehearsal studio intercut with footage from his show If These Spasms Could Speak

A film commissioned by the British Council. You can view the complete transcript for this film.

Arts, disability and international exchange

Garry Robson (Fittings Multimedia Arts), Maria Oshodi (Extant), Stine Nilsen (Candoco Dance Company), Claire Cunningham (artist) and Caroline Bowditch (artist) explore the importance of international exchanges for artistic and organisational development.

The film shows five interviews:

  • Garry Robson on stage intercut with footage from Candoco's Set and Reset/Reset and Frozen by the Fingersmiths and Birmingham Rep
  • Maria Oshodi in a sitting room intercut with landscapes of countryside and close ups of brochures and programmes showing Extant productions
  • Stine Nilsen in Candoco dance studio with close-ups of photos and posters of Candoco productions and later intercut with footage from Fingersmiths rehearsing with speaking and signing actors 
  • Claire Cunningham in rehearsal dancing with her crutches on upturned teacups placed on the floor
  • Caroline Bowditch speaking from a dance studio and in rehearsal and in discussion with two other dancers 

A film commissioned by the British Council. You can view the complete transcript for this film.

Dance and disability in the UK

Showcasing the work of Candoco Dance Company and other UK companies

Stine Nilsen (Candoco), Emma Gladstone (Dance Umbrella), Caroline Bowditch (artist) and Claire Cunningham (artist) explore the excellent work of British disabled-led dance companies, including world-renowned Candoco Dance Company. 

The film shows four different interviews intercut with footage from various dance productions and dance rehearsals with disabled and non-disabled artists. 

  • Emma Gladstone in her offices at Dance Umbrella
  • Stine Nilsen in a dance studio in front of mirrored wall at Candoco Dance Company
  • Caroline Bowditch in a dance studio at Dance4
  • Claire Cunningham in a rehearsal space at Scottish Opera

The film features performances and productions by Candoco Dance Company, Scottish Dance Theatre, Rambert, Dance Umbrella, and Caroline Bowditch in rehearsal with Dance4 and Claire Cunningham in rehearsal at the Scottish Opera.

A film commissioned by the British Council. You can view a full transcript of the film here.

Sign Language and Audio Description in theatre

Robert Softley (artist), David Lan (Young Vic), Jenny Sealey (Graeae Theatre Company), Jean St Clair and Jeni Draper (Fingersmiths), Garry Robson (Fittings Multimedia Arts) and Maria Oshodi (Extant) discuss different ways in which artists, companies and venues are striving to make theatre truly accessible.

The film features a series of comments from the seven interviewees intercut with footage from a variety of performances, rehearsals and locations:

  • Robert Softley talking at the British Council's London HQ during an Unlimited briefing
  • Robert performing If These Spasms Could Speak
  • Graeae and DaDaDa International's The Threepenny Opera on stage at the West Yorkshire Playhouse
  • David Lan talking in a meeting space at the Young Vic featuring footage of the front of house and theatre exterior
  • Jenny Sealey at Graeae featuring a variety of books and artworks on display at the studios
  • Performance of Frozen by the Fingersmiths and Birmingham Rep
  • Jeni Draper talking in a rehearsal space
  • Garry Robson talking on stage during rehearsals at the West Yorkshire Playhouse
  • Jean St Clair signing in a rehearsal space featuring footage of Fingersmiths rehearsing
  • Maria Oshodi at Extant's office featuring footage from Eugene Ionesco's The Chairs and a Touch Tour of the show by Braunarts

A film commissioned by the British Council. You can view a full transcript of the film here.

The End

The End (UK)

Starting in the 1980s, Ted Evan’s ‘The End’ follows four Deaf children over 60 years. After the introduction of a treatment aimed at eradicating deafness, the very survival of Deaf language and culture is at stake. Featuring an ensemble cast, The End is a thought-provoking alternative vision of the future. You can view a transcript of the film here.

Our Story

OUR STORY (Australia)

‘Our Story’ is a fictional animated tale by William Gregory and Nathan Andrews. It tells the story of how Rev. William Gregory and Carly Lopian met and started a family. You can view a transcript of the film here.

Eye TV

EYE TV (Australia)

‘Eye TV’ is a mixture of documentary, comedy, video gaming and animation by James Kurtze. The filmmaker travels with his cat, Dexter, to different countries, backwards and forwards in time, and through other dimensions. You can view a transcript of the film here.

Does It Matter? World War One Shorts

DOES IT MATTER? - World War One Shorts (UK)

With two million British servicemen disabled by World War One, society’s attitude to disability had to change. Five disabled artists present unorthodox takes on the legacies of war and disability:


Assembling a crutch as a soldier assembles a gun, Claire Cunningham enacts a ritual that mirrors the act of creating a weapon of destruction, while actually creating an object of support. This film contains no dialogue.


Simon Mckeown’s animation follows disabled veterans moving through a landscape filled with the artifacts and objects of war, as they prepare for a day in which they must learn new abilities. This film contains no dialogue.

Oh! What a Lovely Lovely Ward

Katherine Araniello turns sentimentality on its head in a playful and absurd re-imagining of a wartime hospital, where the wounded and war damaged wait to have their morale lifted by Matron. This film contains no dialogue.

Breathe Nothing of Slaughter

Tony Heaton examines the potent symbol of the war memorial and the reality of war. Heroic, Adonis-like bodies are set in stark contrast to images of blackened faces and malnourished and broken bodies. You can view a transcript of the film here.

Soldiering On

Jez Colborne’s song explores his fascination with the pomp and ceremony of war, an experience he’s locked out of because “learning-disabled people don’t go to war”.  A collaboration with Mind The Gap. You can view a transcript of the film here.

Produced by Artsadmin and Xenoki. Co-commissioned by Channel 4 and 14-18 NOW, WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.