Inclusive theatre as a tool for drawing attention

The festival “Una Mirada Diferente” (a Different Look) gathers artists with disabilities in order to promote inclusion, normalizing and supporting their presence in dramatic art.

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The festival “Una Mirada Diferente” (a Different Look) gathers artists with disabilities in order to promote inclusion, normalizing and supporting their presence in dramatic art.

Ernesto Caballero has always understood theatre as a tool for artists to overcome their limitations. That’s why, in 2013, as a director at the Centro Dramático Nacional (CDN) (National Dramatic Centre), he decided to bring attention to a group that up to that moment had lacked opportunities. He created the festival Una Mirada Diferente (a Different Look), which drew attention to actors with disabilities.

“The festival arose through an initiative of Miguel Cuerdo and Inés Enciso, and they got in contact with me. Within the plan for this cultural project included this space for people with disabilities, and so we started to work on a festival that would push forward, support, and draw attention to inclusive stage projects, as well as reveal the work of artists with functional diversity. That’s how we successfully started the first edition of the festival up to this day”, Caballero says.

According to Caballero, “a public theatre, a national theatre, cannot leave behind any member of society”. That’s why, from the beginning his goal was to manage and support the presence of people with disabilities in dramatic art.

This year Alfredo Sanzol has taken over the job, but Caballero can be proud of having established the initiative. Apart from the festival itself, which was held between the 14th and 23rd of June, he started an actors’ research project promoted by Fundación Universia, which was promoted in turn by Banco Santander, and the Laboratorio Rivas Cherif of the CDN. The initiative involves a workshop where a director leads a group of creators with and without disabilities. The Universia grants have already helped 58 actors with disabilities.

The CDN also collaborates in the Becas Hefesto (Hefesto Grants) which are promoted by the Fundación Universia and the Instituto Nacional de las Artes Escénicas y de la Música (National Institute of Stage Arts and Music), which help artists with disabilities make the leap into the professional field.

Reto 2019: long-term presence

Una Mirada Diferente this year launched Reto 2019. “It goes farther than creating shows. We wanted to avoid the temptation of isolating and creating a ghetto and, in some way, developing and managing the activity throughout this season. For example, a spectacle like “Cáscaras Vacías” which was presented within the framework of the festival last season, has been included this season in the María Guerrero and it is still being performed”, Caballero states.

In addition to promoting inclusion, these initiatives have given immense value to stage creation itself. “As theatre workers, wehave learned a lot, the public understands this perfectly and not only do they not see a difference between disability and capability, but rather they enjoy thedifference. In the end, creation has much to do with surprise, with the capacity to turn necessity into virtue”.

Caballero, director of dozens of theatre performances, has learned every day over the seasons spent with individuals with and without disabilities. “An actor benefits themselves by looking past another actor with disabilities. Don’t forget that we are social beings looking for harmony with our fellow actors and we are forced out of our isolation. The possibility of working with people who deploy non-conventional systems of communication creates a wealth of communicative phenomena that provides lots of artistic possibilities. Well-understood dialogue comes throughout these experiences”.

Nowadays, Una Mirada Diferente is a reference in Europe and its prosperity is unstoppable.

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