Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts

Events Items

See It To Be It: Disability and Visibility in Theatre

Date/Time: Wednesday 2 November 2022, 6.30pm to 7.45pm

Venue: King's Hall, Armstrong Building, Newcastle University

Robert Softley Gale and Jack Hunter in conversation with Andrew Thompson

Join acclaimed Artistic Director of Birds of Paradise Theatre Company Robert Softley Gale and actor and playwright Jack Hunter when they will be discussing their careers and experiences. What are the practicalities and attitudes that need to change to support the ideas and careers of disabled artists?

Jack and Robert will also be sharing extracts of their work via film clips and a theatrical performance.

The event is hosted by actor, playwright and creative writing tutor at Newcastle University, Andrew Thompson and will include a Q&A with the audience.

Robert Softley Gale is the Artistic Director and CEO at Birds of Paradise Theatre Company, Scotland’s inclusive touring theatre company, working with disabled and non-disabled professional artists. His first production for the company ‘Wendy Hoose’ is a critically acclaimed sex comedy which toured internationally in 2016. He also created ‘Purposeless Movements’, a dance theatre piece for which he was nominated for a CATS Best Director award, and he wrote and performed in ‘Blanche & Butch’, a camp musical comedy about disabled drag queens. Robert directed and wrote ‘My Left / Right Foot – The Musical’ which won a Fringe First and Herald Angel at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe and toured to Japan.

He is an established figure in the Scottish arts scene, with over eighteen years of experience in diverse and varied roles – including disability rights activist, actor and performer, writer, artistic director and supporter and advocate of equality of access to the arts for people with disabilities whether as artists or audiences.

Robert has delivered equalities training on an international level and carries out organisational development programmes across the UK. Robert also sits on the board of the National Theatre of Scotland. At the core of Robert’s working practice is a belief that by creating key partnerships, an arts sector can be developed that is inclusive of people with disabilities and that reflects the society in which we live.

Jack Hunter’s play ‘One of Two’ has just completed a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Festival and was shortlisted for the Scottish Theatre Award on the Fringe. He graduated from the Drama & Performance BA at Queen Margaret University in 2019 and was awarded a Birds of Paradise & Playwrights’ Studio Mentoring Award in 2021.

Andrew Thompson studied acting at the Webber Douglas Academy after graduating with an English degree at Northumbria University. He has travelled extensively throughout the UK working in theatre, film and television. Andrew’s plays have been staged at Arch468 Theatre, Theatre503, Chats Palace Arts Centre, and the Sheffield Crucible. In 2012 he was shortlisted for the Kenneth Brannagh Award for New Drama Writing. Andrew teaches creative writing at Newcastle University.

A note about access to the venue: the front of the Armstrong Building is currently fenced off due to stonework repairs, and there is NO access at the main entrance (opposite the RVI hospital).  Access into the Armstrong Building and King's Hall is via the side entrance, either by the Old Quadrangle (with steps), or the Martin Luther King entrance (back courtyard, just up from the large sculpture heads in the Student Forum, no steps) and accessed via King's Road off St Thomas Street. Please view the campus and city map here.

Robert Softley Gale (c) Eoin Carey