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Theatre that makes it's mark

Indelabilityarts reflects on the inclusive model its developed by working with artists and people with a disability

For those of you who don’t know indelabilityarts, our company is just over two years old and we are an inclusive theatre ensemble. Our structure is much like most theatre companies; we have directors, actors and creatives who work on our mainstage productions.

Our inaugural production Look Mum…No Hands!!! (The Legless Bar Years) has had three sold out seasons so far and we are currently developing our second show Love Me; specifically designed for high school students with a focus on mental health.

Inclusive practice or accessibility is about both artists and audiences. As part of our development for each show we consider different performance and presentation platforms that ensure our work can be accessed by anyone. We employ an Auslan interpreter for each show (not just one-off performances), we present captioning where we can and we are currently exploring the world of audio description. 

In addition, indelabilityarts offers ‘relaxed’ performances. This is a term that isn’t used a lot here in Australia, but it means that anyone is welcome – they can leave at any time and return when they feel ready, house lights are up slightly throughout, sound levels are down, strobe or other sharp effects are reduced, and if anyone makes noise that’s OK. Relaxed performances were originally created so that anyone with autism, auditory or processing disorders could attend and enjoy.

We often get responses to our work like "That’s not what I expected – I was blown away". Oddly, the perception seems to be that our work will be ‘less’ somehow than any other theatre experience, but people walk away realising it is so much more! Our work is real, raw, honest, yet very polished and well-rehearsed. We are a true ensemble. We write, develop, create and present together as a team all year round. How many companies in Australia do that?  

So how do WE do this within the room? We (as a team) work out what we want our show to be, source funding and then get about creating. indelabilityarts' core ensemble of professional artists work part-time every week, all year round, to develop their skills, create new work and brainstorm ideas for future productions. 

We consider our artists first when planning our rehearsals and development sessions and create a flexible working environment, which means we negotiate with our team the hours they work and the environment they need to create work. It’s relatively easy to do. We are led by our artists and the work they want to do and not the other way around. They are artists first and foremost, they have a disability, yes, but they are striving to be known for their work. 

One of the challenges we often face is the perception that it’s hard and expensive to ensure accessibility. Honestly, let’s shift that thinking and put more people on our stages that really represent our community. That is what inclusivity and accessibility is really about – it’s not just about lifts and ramps, it’s not just race or gender, but it’s about truly representing and opening up theatre and performance to everyone. So yes, that might require some investment to start with but surely the returns will be far greater than the dollars spent. 


 

A bit of background – our name came from the idea of indelible ink – we wanted to create work that leaves a mark – but our company is about our artists and their abilities, so hence the change in the spelling from indelible to indelability. We are currently considering shortening this to indel arts – for ease of use. 

indelabilityarts ensemble comprises of Alexandra Ellen, Michel Labosse, Madeleine Little, Jack Rebbeck, Karen Lee Roberts and David Waldie. Co-artistic Directors and co-founders Catarina Hebbard and Rebecca Roberts work alongside the ensemble to create original works with a focus on making theatre that leaves its mark. 

Check out our website, join our mailing list, or sign up to support us if you’d like to be involved. We are currently working on improving our website accessibility. 

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