Scottish companies are breaking new ground when it comes to providing great theatre for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD).

Some of the companies leading the way are:

  • Birds of Paradise theatre company in Glasgow have a fully inclusive cast disabled artists creating work class performances.
  • Drake Music Scotland deliver a range of musical projects across Scottish schools helping pupils with learning disabilities to play by adapting instruments so that they are useable for musicians with a disability.
  • Limelight Music are the largest employer of disabled musicians in Scotland. The organisation is helping people with disabilities to gain employment within the performing arts.
  • Shape Arts and Artsadmin, through their delivery of the Unlimited Impact programme, which works across the UK to offer funding and support to emerging disabled artists to make their own mark in the arts.

Support is growing across the country. The Royal Society is working with the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability, to support six new Fellowship opportunities for people in Scotland with learning disabilities. Bringing greater awareness and endorsing the work of disabled artists. Meet the six fellows here.

These are just a handful of organisations working in Scotland to improve the variety of performances available to audiences with learning disabilities. At the same time, they’re opening the doors to encourage future musicians, actors, producers and contributors of all kinds to get involved in the arts. They aren’t alone in pushing the boundaries of what’s possible for creative practitioners working with people with a learning disability.

Case Study: Home

The new Frozen Light theatre company production Home has captured headlines for its work in making theatre more accessible. A powerful piece of work, the creative show runs with themes of loss, separation, loneliness and hope throughout as we find its characters Scarlet and Olive facing challenges in a world they don’t understand.

To enhance the experience for PMLD audiences, actors escort them from the foyer to the auditorium to allow adjustment to the theatre environment and they engage with audience members singing directly to them and allowing them to touch props.

As the performance finishes its tour of Scotland. Lucy Garland, Frozen Light’s co-artistic director commented on the motivation behind the piece as reported in the Falkirk Herald: “By putting accessible theatre into theatre venues rather than centres or homes we hope to increase the visibility of people with PMLD and create activities for them to access within their local community.”

Main image credit: Photo from Home (rehearsals) by JMA Photography copyright Frozen Light Theatre