Rawcus Theatre Company performers are a diverse bunch — non-disabled actors rub shoulders with those who are blind, have Down syndrome or acquired brain injuries.
But artistic director Kate Sulan said it wasn’t simply a case of the non-disabled performers acting as support players.
“We work as a collective of artists in collaboration,” she said during a break in rehearsals for Small Odysseys (pictured).
“Some of those artists have disabilities, some don’t, but we all support each other and contribute in different ways.
“For example, one of the performers in the company is blind. He’s cued on stage by someone with Down syndrome, but his memory is better than hers, so they support each other and work together.
“Because we’ve worked together for so long now, we have a very sophisticated way of talking and translating things so everybody can understand. “How you might explain a warm-up or a devising exercise so everyone can take part — I really love that part of the work. But you can imagine how it might work in your head, but it’s always different when you get in the room and try it out!”
Rather than viewing working with disabled performers as a challenge, Sulan said she saw it as an opportunity to create new artistic possibilities.
“That’s one of the things I love about the work, that those challenges can often be really provocative artistically. I remember one show, one of the performers in a wheelchair said he didn’t want to be pushed in the show. That was such a great provocation — we had to find ways of moving him around the space in the show without anyone actually pushing him,” she recalled.
“As an artist, you’re always looking for something that makes you reconsider or look at the world in a different way. When you have people in the room who are doing that for you all the time, you’re pretty lucky.”
Small Odysseys, staged in the cavernous Meat Market performance space, will see the company collaborate with sculptor Shaun Patten.
“We were interested in the moments in life where you feel big and strong, the moments you feel tiny and insignificant, and the moments when you feel too big and awkward and you want to shrink into the corner.”
info: Small Odysseys, Arts House Meat Market, July 13 – 23.
Details at www.rawcus.org.au