From 2-12 September 2019, three Bangladeshi artists with disabilities travelled to the UK to attend disability theatre workshops that were organised by the British Council, in association with Graeae Theatre Company. These series of workshops were attended by participants from Japan, Bangladesh and the UK, and will lead up to the production of a re-imagination of William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest in May 2020.
The play will focus on exploring the rich meshing of cultural identities that an international cast can bring and be a part of a spectacular multi-language (signed and spoken) celebration of truly world-class deaf and disabled theatre. Saddam, Riad and Morshed, the three participants from Bangladesh, were previously a part of the play A Different Romeo and Juliet, which was also produced by the British Council and the Graeae Theatre Company. It was Bangladesh’s first-ever theatre production with persons with disabilities.
Despite being in a foreign country and facing a language barrier, the three of them had successfully participated in the workshop.
“It was the greatest challenge for me to form friendships with people from different nationalities in a completely unknown setting," said Morshed. "In the beginning, I was nervous. But no matter what, I kept smiling all the time and the people I met greeted me with a bigger smile. I enjoyed it a lot.”
Saddam, another member spoke about his experiences of working in a global platform. “We learned how to work together in an international standard. Persons with disabilities like us should continue to take part in such advanced level workshops which would enhance their moral courage. People will come to know that we can change the world by battling the odds”,
The British Council emphasises to ensure equal opportunity and diversity by creating inclusive opportunities for everyone. Arranging such an initiative for artists with disabilities is a step to materialise the concept.