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Diversity, opportunities and challenges of inclusive theatre


Jeannette Nijkamp ,

Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
About Jeannette
Researcher on culture and participation
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Mieke Cardol

Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, Research Centre Innovations in Care, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, NL
About Mieke
Professor of Disability Studies; diversity in participation
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Many initiatives including theatre projects with disabled and non-disabled actors

aim at increasing the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. We took

theatre as the context to learn about these inclusive practices. We searched the

scientific literature for case studies to investigate: 1) What can inclusive theatre

performances look like?, 2) Which factors stimulate or hinder working inclusively

within a theatre?, and 3) How are inclusive theatre performances looked upon?

Overall, inclusive theatre can take various forms, however realising inclusive

collaboration between actors with and without disability is not easy. Based on

the findings, it appears that participants of inclusive theatre without disabilities

need to be open to the different modes of expression of their colleagues with

disabilities, and to value this expression and provide room for it. All participants

with and without disabilities together need to develop new ways of working and

co-creating, resulting in new skills and views. Inclusive theatre productions can

make people think differently about ability and normality, while at the same time

having aesthetic power, but it is still controversial to consider these productions

as art instead of as social projects. It is important to realise that inclusive theatre

implies changes for every participant, just as an inclusive society would.

How to Cite: Nijkamp, J. and Cardol, M., 2020. Diversity, opportunities and challenges of inclusive theatre. Journal of Social Inclusion, 11(2), pp.20–32. DOI:
Published on 11 Nov 2020.
Peer Reviewed


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