Drama and Theatre Studies, University of Nottingham
Recently, the UK theatre industry has been criticised for its lack of diversity: onstage and within creative and administrative spheres. Responding to movements like #MeToo, #GiveArtistsAChance and #TheatresPullUpOrShutUp, institutions have worked to increase representation of communities marginalized by race, gender, sexuality, and disability, on and off-stage.
However, Shakespeare performance scholarship has raised concerns about the strategies of the Shakespeare industry to improve diversity. Julian and Solga (2021) and Williams (2019) point to the harm that ‘performative’ diversity can cause to implicated communities. Williams’s model of ‘incomplete dramaturgy’ offers tools for exploring how productions hailed as ‘progressive’ often fail to anticipate the implications of their choices, resulting in reinforcing harmful views. Most recent work on institutional diversity and contemporary Shakespeare performance (e.g. Jarrett-Macauley 2017, Power 2016, Rogers 2013, Thompson 2011) focuses on race, gender and sexuality. To date, there is no sustained study on disability in the contemporary Shakespeare industry that considers its place in all facets of performance. This thesis will fill this gap by interrogating the place of disability in a climate concerned with institutional diversity (as defined by Sara Ahmed) by asking: