In 21 century people with disabilities contribute more and more to Art. In terms of theater, actors on wheelchairs are now as professional as their colleges who can walk. In 2002 in Tel-Aviv, the first deaf-blind theater was created. Russia took a challenge to go further and create an art-school for deaf-blind people and totally succeeded. Moscow Theater of Nations now represents its project worldwide. 

It has been three years Moscow Theater Of Nations successfully runs the inclusive theater project created by the Deafblind Support Fund “Con-nection”. February they have started a Creative Projects Center “Inclusion” for people with different abilities. In 2015 they produced a play Touch-Ables. Today they work on its new version in collaboration with British and French directors and deaf-blind actors.  The project is supported by Connection Fund. Creative Director of ‘Inclusion’, Producer of Inclusive theatre projects Viktoria Avdeeva tells Welkermedia about plans for future. 

Get it Started

The school Inclusion actually started two years ago, in 2015, with a project of GITIS, MKHAT and Chukin Institute. It was a studio where students of these Russian theater schools worked together with people with disabilities. At the end, three plays were represented.

Today “Inclusion” is developing the program “accessible art” in theaters and museums, forming a spectator interest in inclusive art in its various manifestations. The activity of the center of creative projects is represented by four directions: “Inclusion. School”, “Inclusion. Theater”, “Inclusion. Museum”, “Inclusion. Laboratory.”

The idea to create the first “Inclusion”‘s performance Touch-Ables belongs to the actor and art director of the Theatre of Nations Evgeniy Mironov. The sketch play was shown on October 13, 2014, within a special program of the International Festival- School of Contemporary Art Territory, the premiere took place on 19-20 of April 2015 on the Small stage of the Theatre of Nations in Moscow. The staging was made by director Ruslan Malikov, choreographer Yevgeny Kulagin and set designer Yekaterina Dzhagarova.

Today we can undoubtedly say that deaf-blind actors are becoming professionals. Despite our project is social, they have royalties from each performance on par with other actors, – tells Viktoria Avdeeva.

 

Touch-Ables

It may seem impossible to listen to music, to read, to draw, to work, to travel – to live – if you have neither hearing nor vision ability. But it’s not. The play shows another way of perception.

Touch-Ables is a project of socio-cultural integration and rehabilitation of people with hearing and visual impairments. It unites deaf-blind people and those, who can see and hear, in the space of culture and city. On February 25 the first team was formed and started to work on a new staging. It took more than a half of a year to finish a one-hour performance. Since then the play was shown about 30 times in leading Theatres of Russia. It was a nominee of The Golden Mask.

The play “Touch-Ables” is based on the real stories of people with hearing and vision disorder. Each deaf-blind actor has his/her professional partner. They help each other to tell the story to the audience.
The play, inclusive Laboratories, and workshops, the exhibition Touching Art and the documentary film “Word on the palm” became the basis of the project.

Silence, as well as darkness, sometimes is more powerful than noise and something we can see. Especially in a theater, these two can create unexpectedly strong tension.

 

Today we are working on a new version of Touch-Ables with a British Graeae Theatre Company (Graeae is a force for change in world-class theater, boldly placing D/deaf and disabled actors center stage and challenging preconceptions). Russian team remains the same and joins the team of  Jenny Sealey (the current artistic director of Graeae Theatre).  5 Russian, 2 British and 2 French deaf-blind actors and their partners will start to rehearse on 1st of May.   For the past few months, we are also negotiating with France, but we don’t know yet, who’s gonna be a collaborative director.The performance interested my colleagues from Britain and France. They saw a special artistry in it. It is also important that in these countries deafblind are not included in the theatrical context. As a result of the close creative exchange that has already begun, the world will see a new version of the Touch-Ables, tells Viktoriya.

Future Projects

In 2017 new project is coming up. In Living paintings, with the help of dance, animation and sensory experiences deaf-blind and professional actors will recreate famous works of art from The State hermitage Museum from The Dance by Henri Matisse to The Return Of Prodigal Son by Rembrandt. Dmitry Petrov (artist), Albert Rudnitsky (director), Alexandra Rudik (choreographer) and the animation artist Alexandr Petrov are responsible for the artistic conception.

It’s important to note that the project is more cultural than social. Above all, It is a deep artistic and philosophical statement about different approaches to aesthetics in general and to painting in particular, about individual peculiarities of everyone’s perception, – comments Viktoriya.

What is more important for us: skill or content? Can a blind person perceive a painting and what does he\she “read” in it? How does black color sound and is it different from white? The authors of the play will try to answer these and many other questions during rehearsals.

 

Deaf-Blind Inclusive Theatre In Tel-Aviv

It seems that Russia is really a pioneer of Deaf-Blind Theatre in Europe. However, Asia was first to do such a project. Nalaga’at Theater was established in 2002 by Adina Tal and Eran Gur, aiming to integrate deaf-blind people in the society, promote their needs and aspirations and to give them an opportunity for self-expression and realization of their most fundamental right – to contribute to society.

The theater’s first show, “Light is Heard in Zig Zag”, was performing in Israel and around the world, and was hailed by critics and viewers. The second production, “Not by Bread Alone” is still performing today at the Nalaga’at Center in Jaffa Port.
Over the years, Nalaga’at Theater has also produced a successful children play called “Price Rooster“, and an engaging sign language workshop for the whole family called “Give me a Sign”.

In 2015, Nalaga’at Theater has premiered two new shows featuring deaf-blind actors – “Say Orange”, a journey to the world of Bat Sheva Ravanseri – a deaf-blind actress, and “Through the Spirit”, a show which involves sign language with visual theater and circus art featuring 7 deaf-blind actors along with seeing-hearing actors and interpreters.

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