This season, we shared the conversation about the value of the arts to people of all abilities with artists and thinkers from across Canada and the world.

In October 2017, Able Artists proudly co-hosted with Queen’s Department of Film and Media, a two-day gathering featuring internationally renowned theatre artists, Jenny Sealey and Alex Bulmer. This dialogue and workshop brought together artists and researchers from the local community broadly committed to equity in performing arts contexts. This event was later nominated for a City of Kingston “Celebrating Accessibility Award. We would like to acknowledge the support of Queen’s University Office of the Provost — Chancellor Dunning Trust Lectureship, Principal’s Development Fund – Visiting Scholars Program, Office of the Provost — Academic Operations and Inclusion, Department of Film and Media, Dan School of Music and Drama, Cultural Studies Graduate Program, Human Rights Office, Isabel Bader Centre Integrated Learning Fund, Agnes Art Centre, and the Department of Gender Studies.

In May 2018, Able Artists sponsored a talk and film screening by Menka Nagrani, founder and choreographer of Montreal’s Les Productions des pieds des mains at the Canadian Association of Theatre Research 2018 conference held at the Isabel Bader Centre in Kingston. The Canadian Association for Theatre Research (CATR) is a non-profit organization founded in 1976 to support and encourage research in theatre and performance studies in Canada, with a special interest in Canadian work. Les Productions des Pieds des Mains’ short artistic dance film, Eurêka, is currently touring film festivals around the world. The film was created with three star artists, all of whom have Down Syndrome, and a cast of 20 extras who also have Down Syndrome.

2017-2018 PRESENTERS

Jenny Sealey, Photo Credit: Matt-Cetti-Roberts

Jenny Sealey, MBE has been Graeae’s Artistic Director since 1997. She has pioneered a new theatrical language and aesthetics of artistic access experimenting with bilingual BSL [British Sign Language] and English, prerecorded BSL, creative captioning, in ear/live audio description methods. Her current international work includes working with Crescer e Viver, setting up circus training for Deaf and disabled people for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Opening Ceremony and Cultural Olympiad; touring Reasons to be Cheerful to Mexico, and directing disabled-led productions in Sri Lanka and Japan. Jenny co-directed the London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony alongside Bradley Hemmings. She also won the Liberty Human Rights Arts Award and was named on the Time Out London and Hospital Club’s 2012 list of most influential people in the creative industries.

Alex Bulmer

Alex Bulmer is an award-winning writer, performer and art maker for stage and screenBulmer has worked with numerous organizations including Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Nightwood Theatre, CBC, The National Arts Centre, Royal Court, Graeae Theatre Company, APAE Brazil, the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and is writer of the AMI award-winning BBC radio 4 adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, writer of SMUDGE, which earned two Best New Play nominations in Canada and was Time Out’s Critics’ Choice during its U.K. premiere, and co-writer of the BAFTA-winning U.K. television series Cast Offs, a disability informed production featuring six lead disabled actors. She is the artistic director and co-founder of the U.K.-based theatre company Invisible Flash; the inclusive dramaturgy contributor to Red Dress Productions’ June, 2017 performance of Promise in The Park; and is currently developing an original song-driven stage play entitled Hush for a U.K. production in 2019. 

Menka Nagrani is the Founder of Montreal’s Les Productions des Pieds des Mains, a socially committed company that features well-known actors and dancers alongside atypically cast artists, with a view to provoking thought on artistic and social issues. Their shows have been presented many times, not just in Montreal (Espace Tangente, Théâtre La Chapelle, cultural centres), but at international festivals in Ontario, Belgium, France and Japan. The Globe and Mail rated Le Temps des Marguerites . . . à la folie ou pas du tout! the fourth best dance-theatre show in Canada in 2007. In 2010, the company won the Janine Sutto Award. In 2011, Pharmakon won a social commitment award and honourable mention for most remarkable production at the Gala des Cochons d’or, Quebec awards for emerging theatre. In 2012, founder Menka Nagrani received an award for her artistic achievements from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec [Quebec arts and letters council].