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Pádraig Naughton's blog - disability arts online
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Pádraig Naughton introduces the Arts & Disability Ireland collaboration with Fishamble for the VSA Festival in Washington DC / 7 June 2010

Portrait photo of Arts Disability Ireland Director, Padraig Naughton

Photo of Arts Disability Ireland Director, Padraig Naughton

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When DAO editor Colin Hambrook asked me to write a blog of my trip to Washington DC and my impressions of the 2010 VSA International Festival, I immediately said, yes. In fact it was at a VSA festival in Brussels back in 1994 that I first met Colin.

Then I was a young visual artist who had the previous year graduated from the National College of Art and Design in Dublin with a degree in Craft Design Ceramics. I was in Brussels as part of an Irish delegation. Two pieces of my tactile sculpture were being exhibited at the National Museum in Brussels.

The sculptures were part of an exhibition which toured Ireland in 1993/94 called Celebrating Difference. Now I find myself at another VSA festival. On this occasion I am the Director of Arts & Disability Ireland (an affiliate of VSA) and Colin is in Brighton corresponding with me by email, giving warm words of encouragement on posting to my blog for DAO readers.

At this years festival Arts & Disability Ireland are working with Fishamble: The New Play Company to co-produce a series of four readings of new writing for theatre by Irish disabled writers. This project started well over a year and a half ago with an invitation from Ambassador Kennedy Smith to present Irish writing on disability at the 2010 VSA Festival.

Since then Arts & Disability Ireland have been working together with Fishamble to develop the project. In December 2009 we hosted a writing workshop with Gavin Kostick, Literary Manager with Fisahmble and a presentation by internationally known disabled writer/director Kaite O’Reilly.

We also announced at this event, that Arts & Disability Ireland and Fishamble were seeking submissions from Irish disabled writers on the theme of change. Other parameters were that these be short plays with a duration of approximately 10mins and a maximum of 2 characters. ‘Turning Point’ was born. To that call we received 11 pieces from 8 writers.

At the beginning of February 2010 we selected the work of 4 writers - John Austin Connolly, Steve Daunt, Stephen Kennedy and Rosaleen McDonagh. Over the next two months Gavin worked with the writers to develop their scripts. In March we premiered the plays at the Project Arts Centre in Dublin. They were Directed by Jim Culleton of Fishamble and this evening 7th June we present the staged readings at the VSA Festival.

My aim over the coming week is to tell of our experience of bringing ‘Turning Point to the 2010 VSA Festival, introduce some of the many other performances, exhibitions and debates that are happening as well as share my thoughts and impressions of spending time in Washington DC.

Keywords: fishamble,disability arts festival