Learning disability theatre company Mind the Gap secures £50k to take show on the road

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A THEATRE company for learning-disabled artists has been awarded a grant of nearly £50,000 to take an acclaimed show on the road.

Contained, a production by Bradford-based theatre company Mind the Gap, interweaves nine actors’ true-life stories into a live performance about the everyday and the extraordinary.

It is accompanied by thought-provoking workshops and events designed to encourage other learning-disabled people to share their life experiences.

The show has already been performed in Bradford and around the UK, but now a £49,234 grant from the Arts Council England will allow the company to go on the road once again.

The tour will run from January to June next year, starting with a show in France. It will then visit The Lowry in Manchester, Newcastle’s Northern Stage, the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds and the Square Chapel Centre for the Arts in Halifax.

Julia Skelton, executive director of Mind the Gap, said: “It’s very much a multimedia experience, so it’s live music, it’s film, it’s live performance and these elements all come together in a 90-minute show.

“It’s a real diverse mix, it’s a real mixture of light and shade, showing the rich, complex and varied lives we lead.

“It’s a bit too easy to stereotype and have perceptions of the lives people lead.

“Actually, there is much more common ground than there is difference, and it has been very positive in reaching audiences of all ages – from people with experience of disability, either through a family member or personal experience, to people with no experience of disability at all.”

The stage production is accompanied by a take-over of the host theatre, with workshops and other events, where people with learning disabilities are encouraged to share experiences and moments in their lives which have been important to them.

Some of these stories are recorded in short one-minute films.

Michelle Dickson, director of touring at the Arts Council England, said: “I’m really pleased that we have funded Mind the Gap to tour Contained.

“It’s a great show, created and performed by learning disabled artists, which will appeal to the widest possible audience.

“Now people across the North will have the opportunity to experience the show, as well as audiences in France which enables Mind the Gap to increase its international profile and reach.”

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