Convivial theatre: Care and debility in collaborations between non-disabled and learning disabled theatre makers

Dave Calvert

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter draws on the theories of Eva Kittay, Nel Noddings and Jasbir K. Puar to counter critical responses to Disabled Theater, a collaboration between Jérôme Bel and Theater HORA. Readings of the performance by Gerald Siegmund and Benjamin Wihstutz propose that Bel has constructed a discursive performance framework which in which disability functions to critique aesthetic demands for virtuosity and, in doing so, implicitly challenge neoliberal values. Such readings, however, risk sustaining ableist conceptions of learning disability that are themselves fundamental to (neo)liberal ideas. Mind the Gap’s Contained, another collaborative performance involving non-disabled and learning disabled theatre makers in which acts of care are more visible, offers potential for an alternative reading. This performance creates a ‘convivial theatre’ where identities, relationships and meanings are formed within the performance encounter through acts of theatrical engrossment, the explicit attitude and labour of care for the performance situation itself. The chapter argues that similar traces of conviviality and theatrical engrossment can also be seen within Disabled Theater, eluding Bel’s discursive framework and opening up space for a more radical challenge to neoliberal principles.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPerforming Care
Subtitle of host publicationNew Perspectives on Socially Engaged Performance
EditorsAmanda Stuart Fisher, James Thompson
Place of PublicationManchester
PublisherManchester University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781526146793
ISBN (Print)9781526146809, 1526146800
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2020


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