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Leicestershire Centre for Integrated Living

National Theatre plans shows on issue of disability

Date: 4/6/2015
Summary: National Theatre boss Rufus Norris has said he hopes to stage more work that will focus on the issue of disability.

Norris spoke on Tuesday of plans for a show in the NT's temporary theatre that was "very focused on disabled issues".

He added he was also in talks with "senior writers" about a play on the main Olivier stage addressing similar themes.

Norris was speaking at a public debate on diversity in UK theatre at the NT in London.

'Reflect this country'

Act for Change, which organised the event, revealed statistics that showed over the Easter weekend only one actor with a "visible disability" had been noted across all theatre sectors, (the West End, regional and subsidised). That had been at the National Theatre.

Interviewed on the Olivier stage, Norris said he was considering whether to introduce quotas to improve diversity within the organisation.

"There is a big argument about whether there should be quotas. Across this year we will be testing that to see how desirable it is," he said.

"Our policy is quite simply to reflect this city and this country. That means in terms of gender, BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic] and disabled. That's not a difficult policy."

Norris said that in 2014/15 the National's BAME on-stage figure was an unusually high 33% - driven in part by shows such as Behind the Beautiful Forevers and Here Lies Love. He said his aim was for 20% in any given year.

He admitted that it was "much harder" to achieve the same figures in permanent backstage staff.

Pressed on the issue of quotas, he said: "The last thing I'm saying is no. What I want is for this community to represent the country accurately and if that's the best way of doing it then, yes - why not?"

The Act for Change debate was chaired by Shami Chakrabarti, head of civil rights group Liberty.

Panellists included actors Adrian Lester and Cush Jumbo, director Phyllida Lloyd, critic Mark Lawson, shadow culture secretary Chris Bryant and Jenny Sealey, co­‐director of the 2012 Paralympics Opening Ceremony. The audience included culture minister Ed Vaizey.

Source BBC

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