Those who know my work will be aware of my antipathy towards non-disabled actors ‘cripping up’ to play disabled characters. As I put it in my 2002 play ‘peeling’: ‘Cripping-up is the twenty-first century’s answer to blacking up.’
It’s a theme continued in my response to Lisa Hammond’s fantastic open letter to writers about putting crips in scripts for The Guardian last year http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/30/theatre-disability-crips-in-scripts and a long lament from many of us, recently so eloquently by Rosaleen McDonagh, and through her decades-long dedication and innovative practice by Jenny Sealey.
So hurrah hurrah, someone outside disability arts and culture has taken up the cause. This week the wonderful Lyn Gardner questions the casting of Martin McDonagh’s ‘The Cripple of Inishmaan’ in her blog:
‘We no longer accept white actors blacking up – yet the able-bodied Daniel Radcliffe is playing a physically disabled character in the West End. How come?’
It’s been a long time coming, but perhaps at last this issue will be placed firmly on the commercial theatre agenda. It’s frustrating that someone from the ‘mainstream’ needs to take it up for the question to be validated, but I’m grateful for allies with such public visibility. Hopefully together we can challenge this practice.
You can read Lyn’s post here: