The performing arts industry has long lacked accessible theatre and drama training and services. Theatres are often physically inaccessible for disabled audiences, and aspiring disabled actors and actresses struggle to find suitable drama schools to attend.
A concern for those who are disabled and want to get into the theatre and performing arts industry is where to find quality training. Drama courses are often tailored to those who are able-bodied, the majority of classes being held in person in inaccessible venues.
Online, remote learning has allowed those who usually wouldn’t be able to attend drama school, to learn how to act and perform. This has unleashed opportunities for so many disabled students around the world, where they can learn and practice from the comfort of their own homes, which are suitably adapted to their needs.
Ideally, theatres and performance studios will be the ones adapting, not the students. However, this is unfortunately not always the case. Renovations and modifications to buildings can take years and are costly in this current economic climate where many theatres and creative spaces already find themselves under threat of closure.
For changes to happen in the industry, we need more disabled performers and professionals on the inside, leading the way. Not only will they act as role models for aspirings actors and actresses with disabilities, encouraging more to get into the world of drama theatre, but they will also spearhead the changes that need to be made to the training and performance facilities.
The benefits of online drama classes
The benefits of online learning were discovered during the pandemic. While it was once difficult for people with disabilities to access traditional classes, it became possible for them to participate equally with their peers in online learning.
But the advantages of online learning are not that it is just accessible. It comes with lots of the same benefits as learning in person. You can build connections or network with others via online forums and video sessions, and participate in a range of classes without time constraints or having to fit them around your busy schedule.
Theatres have long been inaccessible for disabled people, whether that is audience members or actors. With many being registered as listed buildings, there is little in the way of disabled provisions being made, affecting their accessibility.
There is often a lack of disabled and wheelchair provisions in theatres both backstage, off-stage, and on-stage. This makes attending live theatre productions extremely challenging for lots of disabled people. If theatres are so inaccessible to their audiences, imagine how aspiring disabled actors feel.
As mentioned earlier in this blog, the answer is to have more disabled people working in the theatre and performing arts industry. This way we can ensure that theatres are becoming more accessible places. We have seen these establishments adapt during the pandemic to have additional seating options (to allow for social distancing), so there is a question over why they can’t make similar changes to suit those who need it the most.
What changed after Covid-19?
The uncomfortable truth is that lots of theatres and drama schools managed to quickly change and adapt to online, distance learning when it would benefit them during the Covid-19 pandemic. This was a welcome change for a range of people, especially the disabled community.
The option to watch from home helped some autistic and learning-disabled people to enjoy the theatre free from strict expectations around silence and stillness. A new standard of accessibility for deaf, hard-of-hearing and visually impaired audiences was also created through the inclusion of optional captions, British Sign Language, and audio descriptions on online performances.
How iampro is making drama courses accessible
The pandemic-induced shift to online productions was ultimately something that was long overdue for many. It allowed theatre lovers to enjoy productions from the safety and comfort of their own homes and those who wanted to try their hand at acting to do so when it fitted in with their busy lives.
At iampro, we strive to ensure drama and theatre classes remain accessible for all, even more so post-pandemic. We do this by offering affordable membership options, including scholarships, and unlimited access to on-demand online courses, live events and professional masterclasses, as well as 1-to-1 mentoring by some of the best in the business. All of our on-demand courses have the option to turn captions on and for live classes members can use Zoom’s automatic captions to ensure the deaf community can access training from our world-class coaches.
All of this means that iampro can fit your needs, whatever they may be. We hope to encourage those who have been put off by the inaccessibility of the industry to come and give our drama classes a go. Learning to act has a variety of great benefits, for both adults and children.