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Highlights of 2015 in Learning Disability/Complex Needs Theatre

As 2015 draws to a close, we take a wee step back to reflect on what’s been happening in the first year of Upfront Performance Network (UPN), and the fascinating sector we are part of.

UPN aims to more clearly define and connect the international landscape of theatre for and with people with learning disabilities and complex needs. It’s been a big year, and we’re here to celebrate the achievements some of the most creative and committed companies and artists working in theatre today!

So here is our UPN 2015 top 10 for learning disability theatre:


1. Take Off Festival 2015

down to earth

Down to Earth: Bamboozle

We were delighted to see Take Off Festival; the largest theatre festival for young audiences in England, programme two pieces of theatre that were specially created for audiences with learning disabilities. Down to Earth’ by Bamboozle Theatre and Underfoot’ by new company about NOWish were both fine examples of highly artistic work made with this audience at its heart. It’s encouraging to see more festivals taking this inclusive approach to programming; not shying away from the challenge of meaningfully catering for this ‘hard to reach’ audience.


2. Lung Ha Theatre Company

Lung Ha produced two professional theatre productions this year, in collaboration with, and performed by, artists with learning disabilities: The Strange Case of Jekyll and Hyde, and Thingummybobtoured Scotland to venues such as the Traverse and Dundee Rep, proving, once again, that it is possible for this work to go beyond community settings and be part of a wider professional theatre programme.


The Strange Case of Jekyll and Hyde: Lung Ha Theatre

“As one of Europe’s leading companies working with adults with learning difficulties, Lung Ha Theatre Company works here with Drake Music Scotland to achieve its usual impressive production standard…inspired by a deep feeling for a story which becomes a passionate cry against the prejudice that would confine people to lesser lives, because of an accident of birth.” (Scotsman review: Four stars)

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