Strategic Partnership - Nepal International Theatre Festival 2019
The British Council supported the Nepal International Theatre Festival as the Strategic Partner for its first edition which was held between 25 February and 4 March 2019. The primary objective of this partnership was to ensure that some level of accessibility for disabled audiences is secured. While access is very difficult for people with physical difficulties in all theatre halls in Nepal—no theatre is wheelchair accessible, for example--some interventions regarding content accessibility was made in the festival.
Panel Discussion – Disability Inclusion in Theatre Arts
Disability is a topic that has been discussed extensively in Nepali theatre, but unfortunately, while plays around disability issues have been produced in the past, almost none of them saw the direct involvement of disabled people in production. Also, during pre-production, there are hardly any disabled characters that are developed for the stage. The ones that are created by non-disabled people are often portrayed to symbolise weakness, sympathy, or for comic relief. The panel discussion brought together an artist, a producer, and a disability organisation professional to talk about how hands-on inclusivity could be brought about in Nepali theatre and how it could be made more accessible to disabled people.
Dayahang Rai - film actor/theatre director
Mairi Taylor - Birds of Paradise
Manish Prasai - National Federation of the Disabled Nepal
Moderator: Sagar Prasain – Nitfest team member/disability rights advocate
Two sign language interpreters interpreted the discussion for the 12 deaf people in the audience. The following concerns and ideas were discussed by the panel:
- All panelists agreed on the importance of bringing disability issues into the mainstream theatre for greater awareness
- The dire need is to make physical infrastructure more accessible for the inclusion of disabled people. There are no theatre halls in Nepal that are wheelchair accessible, for example.
- The importance of disabled people to be involved in the production, especially in ones that involve disability as a topic or have disabled characters.