Learning disability, thought and theatre

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The concept of dramaturgy as a creative process of ‘thinking no one’s thought’ (Bleeker 2015, 75) is the hub around which this article argues for theatre as a productive means for people with learning disabilities to communicate thought. In contrast to Maaike Bleeker’s discussion that draws on professional dance and theatre makers processes, and who are without learning disabilities, here, people whose capacity for thought is called into question are foregrounded. The author argues that the concept presents opportunities to find ways to think together. Aesthetic thinking and practice affords ways of challenging boundaries that exclude or over determine some artists because of radical difference. The author considers a particular example of practice that foregrounds how Bleeker’s notion is both proven and extended and that opens up aesthetic possibilities beyond definitions of competence. That this might be of critical importance is considered via Roberto Esposito’s proposition to think about community (Esposito 2010) as both an impossibility and as realised experience enacted through the tensions between obligation and immunity from the Other. This Other is found here in the figure of the person with learning disabilities who offers profound thought through theatre and mitigates the effects of marginalisation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Pages (from-to)290-304
Number of pages15
JournalContemporary Theatre Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2019


  • learning disability
  • theatre,
  • thinking
  • dramaturgy


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