Maman Poulet | Clucking away crookedly through media, politics and life

No Escape and No Entrance either

April 8th, 2010 · 16 Comments · Disability

Update: The Abbey released a statement this evening in response to this post and other queries regarding access to the Peacock and the forthcoming productions.

A play opens next week in Dublin – a piece of documentary theatre on the Ryan Report on abuse in institutions.

Written by Mary Raftery, No Escape is the first of a new season of plays commissioned by the Abbey which looks at abuse in state funded institutions for children in Ireland.  The series is called the Darkest Corner and will include a reading of 1961 play The Evidence I Shall Give, and a production of James X written by Mannix Flynn.

For people with disabilities the Ryan Report was very significant in documenting some of the abuses faced by children with disabilities in schools and residential services.  Chapter 13 of volume 3  of the Ryan report examined reports of abuse in locations for children with intellectual, physical and sensory disabilities.   Adults living in residential services in Ireland today still don’t have independent statutory inspection or monitoring of the services that they receive that are paid for by the state (FYI approx €1.6bn per year is spent on all types of disability services in Ireland)

The nature of my day job means that I rarely speak or comment due to confidentiality on these and other related issues but I was so happy to see that the Abbey were looking at this area of Irish life and that someone with the pedigree of Mary Raftery was involved in taking the report and writing it for performance. I’m sure that it will not be something that can be watched with ease or comfort but the story is important to be told.

Ironically I won’t be able to go and see it and neither will many people with disabilities as the productions in this series, the Darkest Hour, are being staged in one of the most inaccessible theatres in Dublin.   I have been to the Peacock once when I was a lot more able for the stairs and I vowed never to return. Now I’m not able to and neither are many other people with disabilities.

I wish that state funding of arts spaces could be equality and access audited. I know that these are indeed hard times for the arts world but I think that spaces that cannot be accessed by everyone should simply not be used in the staging of performances.

Maybe the management of the Abbey could see that at least one performance in this series could be staged in an accessible venue (and I mean a place that has more than 2 places for wheelchairs so no not the Abbey either) in the next few months.  The history of abuse of people with disabilities and other children who were forgotten by the state is something that disabled people have the right to witness and own too.

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