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Looking back, moving forward: drama, disability and social justice

Kempe, A. and Shah, S. (2015) Looking back, moving forward: drama, disability and social justice. In: Freebody, K. and Finneran, M. (eds.) Drama and Social Justice. Routledge Research in Education. Routledge, London, pp. 89-102. ISBN 9781138799653

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The aim of this chapter is to briefly outline how disability has been represented in theatre, what access disabled people have had to drama and theatre in the past, and what might be achieved in the pursuit of social justice with young people in relation to awareness of and provision for disability. It will focus in particular on how disability has been addressed in drama education and what assumptions have been made regarding drama and disability in education. In considering such issues one might perceive manifestations of what Freebody and Finneran (2013) recognise as an overlapping and ‘somewhat artificially created dichotomy between drama for social justice and drama about social justice.’ This chapter will examine some examples of how drama has been used to give students in mainstream schools insights into disability, and the philosophy that underpins the drama curriculum of one special school where the focus is on drama as social justice: the argument being that in some cases simply doing drama is, in effect, a manifestation of social justice. Finally, some of the progress made in recent years regarding access and engagement will be addressed through specific reference to the authors’ on-going work into ‘performing social research’ (Shah, 2013) and how theatres are increasingly attempting to give more access to disabled young people and their families by offering ‘relaxed performances.’

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Improving Equity and Inclusion through Education
ID Code:44616

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