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Tony McCaffrey: A Different Light Theatre Company

Tony McCaffrey's enthusiasm is infectious. There is a passion and vitality evident when he talks about his work. You can't help but join in and feel excited about his world of mixed ability theatre…

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Tony McCaffrey's enthusiasm is infectious. There is a passion and vitality evident when he talks about his work. You can't help but join in and feel excited about his world of mixed ability theatre performance. AT CPIT Tony teaches students about theatre history and theory and directs performance, drawing on his extensive international theatre background. An interest in mixed ability performance stems from running theatre workshops for disabled people for the Chirstchurch City Council some years ago. Inspired by their tremendous energy to learn and perform, Tony took his participants on to the stage.Tony McCaffrey's enthusiasm is infectious. There is a passion and vitality evident when he talks about his work. You can't help but join in and feel excited about his world of mixed ability theatre performance. AT CPIT Tony teaches students about theatre history and theory and directs performance, drawing on his extensive international theatre background. An interest in mixed ability performance stems from running theatre workshops for disabled people for the Chirstchurch City Council some years ago. Inspired by their tremendous energy to learn and perform, Tony took his participants on to the stage.A Different Light Theatre Company was formed about 4 years ago, initially out there with cutting edge productions. Tony introduced disabled performers into the group to create theatre with people of mixed ability and has taken shows around NZ and to Australia. NASDA students are often invited into the group, and are generally keen to be involved, even though this can provoke challenges for them. Tony's research interests follow his passion, and he has a recent PhD proposal accepted on the politics and aesthetics of disability performance.

The Company's latest production, Frankenstein's Children, was a first. All were performers with disabilities. This raised new challenges for Tony. Would the group take ownership of the text, would they understand the content and irony, would there be rhythm in a scene, what about the cueing? The story is about a group of scientists creating the perfect human being through genetic modification, with historical glimpses of how those with disabilities have been treated in the past. The gamble paid off and the show was a great success! While Tony believes the performers grew from being without the abled bodies, he now wants to explore whether this is the best process for those who have learning difficulties.

Tony has a vision for a mixed ability performance programme at CPIT, incorporating areas such as theatre, broadcast and dance. He wants to allow access for voices that don't normally get heard. And to witness more memorable moments where all performers, regardless of ability, will describe their occupation as "actor"!

30/10/08

Written by

Ara Institute of Canterbury

30 Oct 2008

Email - info@ara.ac.nz Phone - 0800 24 24 76