News

Pathways—a bespoke training programme for visually impaired theatre-makers

A mid shot of a young woman throwing her head back and laughing. She is onstage in the auditorium of a small-scale theatre.

Pathways’ is a four-year-long programme with three strands:

  1. Training programme for approximately 10 visually impaired people each year, in its first year focusing on acting; in subsequent years writing and directing
  2. Opportunities for visually impaired awareness training for theatre companies and training organisations
  3. Roundtable discussions for colleagues within the theatre industry to discuss questions and perceived challenges to accessibility for visually impaired artists with a view to improve and increase accessibility for visually impaired artists in the sector

Training programme

In the first year, we will be focussing on those who have shown interest, talent, commitment and enthusiasm for a career as a performer.  In subsequent years we will expand the programme to work with visually impaired writers and directors as well.  In the first year, the training programme will involve monthly workshops; mentoring sessions; and individualised support for participants.  The training programme will include practical workshops exploring:

  1. Craft – led by a mixture of both visually impaired Extant colleagues and non-visually impaired colleagues these workshops will explore specific different performance as a craft as well as aspects of theatrical genre
  2. .Drama schools – introductory workshops into applying to and thriving at drama school.  Drama schools currently involved Academy of Live and Recorded Arts; Guildhall School of Music & Drama; Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and Royal Central School of Speech & Drama
  3. .Industry – these workshops focus on industry-related topics such as demystifying the casting process; networking and building a portfolio career.  Theatres currently involved include National Theatre; Theatre 503; Birmingham Rep and Shakespeare’s Globe

The actors will have a showcase performance at RADA Studios on Wednesday, 3 April 2019.

We're delighted to announce that in its first year, Pathways will be supporting Danielle Evans, Anthony Gough and Alex Williams from the North West; Chloe and Judith MacCombe from Northern Ireland, Megan John and Jake Sawyers from Cardiff, as well as Douglas Walker from Bristol who some may have seen at the Edinburgh Fringe this summer in his one-person comedy show ‘Of Christmas Past’.

In addition, Extant plans to monitor and disseminate findings regarding accessibility of mainstream training opportunities for visually impaired people and promoting the benefits of accessible mainstream training.

Peter Corbett, CEO of Thomas Pocklington Trust, said, “We are delighted to be supporting Extant and the Pathways programme.  As well as helping to develop the careers of a number of people from across the whole of the UK, this is a great way of getting key messages to the public about the talents of people with sight loss and the modest adjustments needed to enable them to fully participate in all activities on a level playing field with their sighted peers”.

Notes to editors: Pathways has been made possible further to vital funding from Arts Council England; The Leathersellers’ Company and Thomas Pocklington Trust.

Extant is Britain's leading professional performing arts company of visually impaired people is led by Artistic Director and CEO Maria Oshodi. Extant has become an innovation in arts management and creative practice, bringing a unique cultural perspective of visual impairment to broaden employment, training and consultancy through the arts.

Readers can be directed to find out more information about how to get involved in any capacity by contacting:

Hannah Quigley
Pathways Programme Manager
Extant
hannah@extant.org.uk
020 7820 3737

Josh Elliott
Communications and Development Coordinator
Extant
josh@extant.org.uk
020 7820 3737

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