Event can be accessed live, online and recorded
About The History of Different Light and Tony McCaffrey
"I have been making theatre with the learning disabled artists of Different Light Theatre for nearly two decades, but what might constitute the history of the company? The recent book Giving and Taking Voice in Learning Disabled Theatre (Routledge 2023) contains 20,000 words from the learning disabled artists themselves, but a history, if such a thing is possible, also needs to take into account the often looping and tangential lines of ‘development’ of the company, the mis-steps and messiness of process, the distinctive temporalities or ‘crip time’ of learning disabled performance, and a negotiation between, on the one hand, love, care, and support, and, on the other, artistic discipline and rigour.
The history of the company is also deeply implicated in the colonial heritage of Aotearoa New Zealand and the fault-lines of inequity exposed in Otautahi Christchurch by the 2010/11 earthquakes, the 2019 mosque massacres, the Covid pandemic, and the climate emergency. We, the learning disabled artists and I, are still coming to terms with what has been gained and lost in this period, how ‘voice’ has been given and taken, and also, ultimately, with the ‘fugitivity’ that constitutes the company’s reason for being. We are still trying to find a way of being together in an untogether way."
Tony McCaffrey is a Lecturer at the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art, Christchurch, New Zealand, and Director of Different Light Theatre. He is co-convenor of the Performance and Disability Working Group of the International Federation for Theatre Research. He is the author of Incapacity and Theatricality (Routledge, 2019) and has published articles in Theatre Research International, The Journal of Dramatic Theatre and Criticism and Global Performance Studies. Different Light Theatre is an ensemble of learning disabled artists. The company has been devising, performing and researching performance for nineteen years in New Zealand. They have toured performances to Australia, the United States, and the UK, and members of the group have recently participated in online conferences in Athens, Helsinki, and Reykjavik.
To find out more about Different Light, please see the video transcription and video of a rough recording of Different Light presentation/performance at the University of Auckland in December 2022.