… I stand on the table and dance for you in my dream like a musical star the attention I love so much I am a special star that is me …Alex Naber in: Goodbye cake on the table
The Special Theatre One-Act Road Show: A project name that sounds like Monty Python’s Flying Circus. ‘Ha, I hadn’t heard that association yet.’ laughs Tine Veldhuizen. ‘Yes, it is a long name, but it’s now in everyone’s head.’ Veldhuizen is director of Special Arts, a foundation that promotes the participation of people with disabilities in the arts. The foundation focuses mainly on visual art, poetry and theatre.
The Special Theatre One-Act Road Show offers theatre groups made up of people with disabilities the opportunity to submit a plan for a one-act play and perform it for an independent team of professionals. ‘The knife cuts both ways,’ says Veldhuizen.
‘We want people with disabilities to collaborate with non-disabled theatre professionals, to give the conventional theatre a taste of theatre by people with disabilities. With this project, we aim to contribute towards a more inclusive theatre scene.’
Until now, inclusivity has mainly focused on the accessibility of theatres. There are approximately seventy theatre groups of people with a disability spread across the Netherlands, thirty of which sent in a plan. ‘It is clear that theatres, actors, programmers and especially theatre students are very interested to work with these groups. Would you like a few names? Mugmetdegoudentand (Dutch for ‘Mosquito with the Golden Tooth’), director and actor Oda Spelbos, actor Alex van Bergen…’
All of the theatre groups also submitted a development goal. Special Arts is currently engaged in a matchmaking exercise, trying to connect these development goals to the interests of mainstream theatre professionals. The intention is to create a sort of cross-pollination by organising coaching days and workshops to benefit everyone. Over three days, which are organised by region, the individual one-act plays will be performed on stage in front of a professional audience. Veldhuizen: ‘Two theatre groups from each region will then perform their one-act plays in front of a jury, theatre professionals and the public at the national One-Act Festival and the experiences from the crossover will be shared.’