PANEL 3: Politically Incorrect

Thursday 18th January 2018 – 14:30-16:30PM – Rehearsal Room 7


  • Intersections between theatre practice, disability and phenomenology: Debating the lived experience of professional directors and disabled actors. Nina Michelle Worthington

Intersections between theatre practice, disability and phenomenology are complex yet have fast become relevant in considering the work of professional practitioners. The call to increase the participation of D/deaf and disabled actors in theatre is widening; long-standing public debate surrounding casting choices has been bolstered by external pressure from funding bodies. Arts Council England’s shift in strategy has made public the failure of all its funded theatres to adequately represent disabled people in their workforce. At ground-level directors and disabled actors must consider their response to this, yet the arena for discussing disability and theatre is fraught with contention. Theatre policy must be aligned with the law, insensitive directorial decisions are laid bare in the media, and even language around ‘disability’ is, as ever, ambiguous. For some directors and disabled actors increased opportunity to work together will demand vulnerability, exploring new territory. Impactful shifts in strategy require a shift in individuals; difference must acknowledged and accepted, casting choices expanded, access needs met, and social and historical intricacies understood within the culture of each theatre workplace. However, it seems that some directors and disabled actors navigate their experiences of theatre practice and disability in silence; diversity politics have rendered fears, concerns, and misunderstandings raised in practice with disabled actors unmentionable.

I am a second year PhD student at Newman University and Liverpool Hope researching the personal experience of theatre practice and disability among professional directors and actors in theatres funded by Arts Council England. This research builds upon a practice based masters dissertation from the University of Birmingham in directing, looking at working with Deaf and disabled actors, investigating the directing process and theatrical interpretation. My background is in media production and community theatre work and you can find me on twitter at @NinaMichelleW and via email at

  • Silent soldier will laugh: performing the taboos in post conflict society. Maja Milatovic-Ovadia

On the 24th March 2016 Radovan Karadžić a war-time leader and a supreme commander of the Bosnian Serb Army was sentenced by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal to 40 years of imprisonment for the genocide and crimes against humanity committed during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the region the verdict was received with opposing reactions emphasizing once again how extensive is the division within the society and highlighting the issues of institutionalised genocide denial.

Through close analyses of theatre project The Voice, A Day of an Unlucky Man, devised by ethnically segregated youth in Bosnia-Herzegovina, this paper aims to understand how comedy functions as a vehicle to address social taboos and support the complex process of reconciliation in the circumstances where one couldn’t tackle the issues of war crimes and segregation in a straightforward and direct manner. The study takes a cross-disciplinary approach to research, drawing from theory of reconciliation, applied theatre practice and comedy studies.

I am a freelance theatre director, drama lecturer and PhD researcher at Royal School of Speech and Drama. My research interest includes the use of humour and comedy within applied theatre practice in post war societies.
I directed over 20 productions in Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia and UK. Previously I was Associate Director for New Writing – NADA Project at National Theatre in Belgrade and Balkan Art Season at Blue Elephant Theatre. From 2009 I work in Bosnia & Herzegovina using theatre to support process of reconciliation.