Pareidolia Theatre: Ensuring inclusivity for disabled artists

Pareidolia Theatre: Ensuring Inclusivity for Disabled Artists

This week, the outstanding Grace Lyons Hudson of Pareidolia Theatre shared her experience as a disabled artist. Pop in to learn how to support disabled artists and ensure that they and their creativity are not defined by their requirements.

Pareidolia, created by Grace Lyons Hudson and Owain Talbot, emerged out of firsthand experience of the lack of inclusivity in the arts industry and a want to ask questions around these issues. The company represents and collaborates with emerging disabled artists, this broad definition includes D/deaf people, visually impaired people, and those with hidden physical disabilities and mental health issues.

It strives to support individuals’ needs and requirements throughout the rehearsal process while creating engaging theatre without constraints; artists and their work are not defined by their requirements, and their creativity is not either. Our inclusive approach ensures that any artist that works with us, disabled or non-disabled, can fulfil their potential in a safe and supportive environment.

Check in constantly

Each rehearsal involves constant checks with each member in the room, listening and nurture. As someone with a hidden disability I (Grace) maintain an honest communication with everyone about my stamina and pain throughout the process. We have created a comfortable and safe environment that this is easy to do.

In other processes or projects, it can feel like you are placing a problem into the room that would stop or alter the creative process and hinder the other artists involved, this can feel like you are the problem which is shunning disabled artists out of the conventional industry setting. I found that I would work beyond my ability and further harming my health in order to ‘keep up’ with the process, also out of fear that i would not be hired again or being marked as a ‘hindrance’.

Create a fluid rehearsal space

We have combatted this ‘problem’ by maintaining a fluid rehearsal room, with no structure set in stone allowing for needs to be met when they arise whilst maintaining creative productivity without harming the artists in the room.

Have backup plans

We create backup plans and contingency whilst a members needs are being met. We are still moulding our process and learning constantly from each other, but as a new company, this is an exciting place to begin.

For me, the process has been uplifting, affirming in my ability and exciting to work in an environment that allows me to listen to my needs and others too.

This way of working includes everyone, we are working by listening to each other and ensuring the level of care is a constant foundation allowing us to create high quality work without constraints.

Pareidolia Theatre:
Pareidolia Theatre: Woman! Pilot! Pirate? Poster/Graphic Design: Kia Nicole Noakes. Photographer: Emma Sheldrick.

Woman! Pilot! Pirate?

Our first show is Woman! Pilot! Pirate? Debuting at VAULT Festival later this month, is a story based in fantasy and obsession. Emmy wants to find out what happened to Amelia Earhart, she also has nothing else on really.

The show dives into adventure and takes the audience along the way with live music, clowning, playfulness and, of course, pirates. The show is ultimately universal, we want the audience to dive in with Emmy and connect with her rather than telling the audience the ins and outs of Emmy’s limited life.

We are celebrating the power of imagination but also looking at the dangers it can bring with it. Escapism and fantasy go hand in hand, Emmy isn’t necessarily escaping something but is liberated into her adventure but what happens when she is in too deep? Will she find Amelia, or get lost too?

The company, is a disabled-led company that involved members who are WOC and LGBTQ+. It is important to not expect disabled artists or minorities to create work around their identities or disabilities and no one’s work should be defined by it either. We have created a show full of silliness and pulled by emotion and music, and we are so excited.

Woman! Pilot! Pirate? Will be captioned during its run at VAULT Festival for the entire run. We’re excited to work with Talking Birds and their technology, The Difference Engine, which allows captions to be delivered to an individual’s smartphone as the show runs. This ensures that those who are d/Deaf, hard of hearing or those who struggle with spoken English or anyone else who wants to view the show with captions have an equal experience as everyone else.

We’re one individual company championing these views, but we’re excited and thrilled to be part of the bigger picture and part of the ever growing list of diverse and disabled-led companies within the arts and theatre. John Dyer said,

Diversity is inviting people to the party, but there is only real inclusion when you ask them to dance.

and that’s what we aim to do, as a company and for the show.

Check out Woman! Pilot! Pirate? at Vault Festival for one week only! Buy your tickets here.

Address: Leake St, Lambeth, London, SE17AD
Dates: 27th February – 3rd March | 6pm (with a 3pm Matinee on the 2nd of March)
Space: The Studio (Accessible entry available)
Price: £12

About Pareidolia Theatre

Twitter: @pareidoliatc
Instagram: @pareidoliatheatre

For more details on captioning and or the show contact Kia at

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