The Republic of Inclusion

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Alex Bulmer and Sarah Garton Stanley call for a rigorous and provocative discussion about the state of inclusion in our theatre community. A conversation for theatre makers, audiences, leaders, funders, all those in the performance world, and those who are being left out. Progress: it’s about accessing the arts and about the arts being accessible. The Theatre Centre is fully accessible for wheelchair users. The event will also include ASL interpretation, Live Captioning, Audio Description, Tactile Map of the space and a supportive listener, and will be live-streamed via in partnership with “HowlRound: A commons by and for people who make performance”  

‘Inclusive practice is inherently creative. It affects how we make work, how we communicate , and how we wish to engage an audience. It holds great artistic potential.’ – Alex Bulmer, Co-Curator

‘One of my favourite quotes and a really great working ideal comes from Nina Simon and her work on She says: Harness the mess in support of the excitement. It’s just one of the things I hope to do at The Republic of Inclusion.’ – Jan Derbyshire, Experience Designer

Keynote Speaker – Jess Thom (Performer and Touretteshero Co-Founder) 

Writer, artist and part time superhero, Jess Thom has Tourettes Syndrome and co-founded Touretteshero in 2010, as a creative response to her experience of living with the condition. Jess debuted in Edinburgh with Backstage In Biscuit Land. Having Tourettes makes her neurologically incapable of staying on script, and that’s where the fun begins and the secret of her distinct performance style emerges.

Jess has written for the mainstream and disability press including The Guardian, The Observer and Disability Now. In 2012 she published her first book Welcome to Biscuit Land – A Year In the Life of Touretteshero, with a foreword by Stephen Fry.

In the guise of her superhero alter ego Jess has performed at festivals such as Glastonbury and Shambala. As a visual and participatory artist, Jess has worked as an artist educator and workshop facilitator for Tate, South London Gallery and the Chisenhale Gallery. Jess works collaboratively with communities to create accessible works that explore and communicate wide-ranging experiences.

“I used to think that changing attitudes was a long drawn-out process. Touretteshero’s taught me that it can often be very quick and it often starts with a single conversation. The Republic of Inclusion represents a unique opportunity to discuss disability, creativity and the power of art to create social change.” – Jess Thom 

This Conversation Event is presented through The Collaborationsan initiative of the Canada’s National Arts Centre English Theatre.


One in seven people in Ontario identify as having a disability.

Is this figure reflected on our theatre stages, in our creative consciousness, through our storytelling, with our audience development, dramaturgy, financial planning, or arts education?

As part of an ongoing investigation, we call for a rigorous and provocative discussion about the state of inclusion in our theatre community; we want to hear from theatre makers, audiences, leaders, funders, and those who are in the performance world and those who are being left out.*

What actions can be taken and what collective mobilization of our various communities can occur to create an inclusive and accessible environment?

What will it take for theatre practice and attendance to become

Spend an afternoon with us as we engage with these questions in active and responsive ways. 

It is an afternoon for all. After all, it’s about Progress.

* The events of the day will be live streamed through


Alex Bulmer and Sarah Garton Stanley

Jess Thom

Jan Derbyshire

Eliza Chandler

English and ASL


Sunday February 15, 1:00pm - 5:00pm

1:00pm: Doors Open
1:15pm: The Welcoming
              Audio Description – Kat Germain
              Opening Remarks – Alex Bulmer and                                       Sarah Garton Stanley
              Keynote – Jess Thom
2:00pm: Break
2:15pm: Action: Co Design - Jan Derbyshire
3:30pm: Break
4:00pm: The Long Table - Everyone
5:00pm: Event Concludes


Photo: Peshkova/