I am a final year PhD student at the WCCEH. Having initially set out to conduct a Participatory Action Research study with actors with learning disabilities who produce theatre in a social care funded setting, I have had to change my plans in response to Covid related restrictions. Doing so led me to focus more deeply on the experiences of actors with learning disabilities/Autism who are producing theatre in a professional context. In doing so I was fortunate enough to interview actors, creative directors and support staff from Lung Ha’s Theatre Company and Hijinx Theatre.
Those interviews revealed that, contrary to my assumptions, the professional field has not resolved issues coalescing around disability and professionalism. Rather, it appears that Austerity related changes to welfare provision have made even more complex a context where stigmatisation and inequitable access to education and employment were already limiting learning disabled actors’ claims to professionalism. As a result, I am increasingly interested in the contribution professional learning-disabled theatre companies make to our understanding of care as a practice that is opposed to paternalistic modes of caring that marginalise people with learning disabilities.