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> > > News: Southbank Centre launches Unlimited festival of groundbreaking new works by Deaf and Disabled Artists
a woman in a silver dress is suspended upside down against a black background

Kaite O'Reilly presents In Water I'm Weightless. Image courtesy National Theatre Wales

In celebration of the London 2012 Paralympic Games and part of the London 2012 Festival, Southbank Centre celebrates the talent and imagination of Deaf and disabled artists from 30 August – 9 September.

Bringing together all 29 Unlimited commissions, Unlimited: the Revelation starts here is an opportunity to discover groundbreaking new works spanning diverse artforms, including dance and performance, visual arts, comedy, circus, music and theatre.

The 11-day celebration is the finale of Southbank Centre’s summer-long Festival of the World, which presents projects from around the world that demonstrate the power of art to transform lives.

Placing Deaf and disabled artists at its centre, the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad Unlimited programme invited artists from across the UK to create original and exciting new works through new collaborations and partnerships, including international collaborations supported by the British Council.

Four years in the making, the programme culminates in Southbank Centre’s Unlimited Festival, with nearly 200 artists taking part, including Dame Evelyn Glennie, Charles Hazlewood and the British Paraorchestra, Claire Cunningham, Mat Fraser, Marc Brew, Bobby Baker, Candoco Dance Company, David Toole and Ruby Wax, and featuring international collaborations with artists from Brazil, China, Australia, South Africa, Japan, Germany and Croatia.

Jude Kelly, Artistic Director, Southbank Centre, said; “The Paralympics changed sport forever in terms of people’s understanding of the talent of disabled people, Unlimited provides the same platform for Deaf and disabled artists to show the extraordinary talent, range and perseverance necessary to make great work. This is a milestone event for culture not just in the UK but across the world.”

Taking place across the site, Unlimited: the Revelation starts here presents an eclectic and packed programme of free and ticketed events, exhibitions, as well as participatory activities and platforms for discussion and debate. Together the events will put the spotlight on the artistic vision and originality of Deaf and disabled artists, giving them space to present their work and share their practice more widely.

Programme highlights include (full listings available on DAOs events listings pages):

  • Is it possible to find love when there are three of you in the relationship? Award-winning performer and choreographer Claire Cunningham stars in Ménage a Trois, a hauntingly beautiful piece of dance theatre exploring Claire’s 20-year relationship with her crutches, presented in partnership with the National Theatre of Scotland. The Unlimited programme has also provided Claire with her first opportunity to choreograph a work for other dancers. Working with major producer Candoco Dance Company, Claire will present 12, a large-scale work with performers from China, Brazil and the UK, connecting past, present and future Olympic hosts.
  • A double-bill evening blending classical ballet and contemporary dance in the world premiere of Marc Brew Company’s Fusional Fragments, featuring the Grammy Award-winning percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie. The second half of the evening will be the first public performance in London of the British Paraorchestra founded by Charles Hazlewood in 2011.
  • Directed by Mish Weaver and presented by Stumble danceCircus, Box of Frogs is an exhilarating blend of high-octane performance showcasing a deluge of circus skills. A feast for the eyes, a jaw-dropping night of entertainment, this is Bipolar circus.
  • Unlimited Global Alchemy led by visual artist Rachel Gadsden began life in Khayelitsha Township in South Africa where the artist worked with the Bambanani artist-activist group, exploring the politics and myths surrounding chronic health issues and what it means to fight for life in the face of social taboos. The emerging visual arts exhibition, live performance and film will be presented as part of the festival.
  • Graeae and Strange Fruit present The Garden, a gravity-defying piece of outdoor theatre with artists taking to four-metre-high sway poles to tell magical stories in the air. As part of Unlimited, Graeae’s acclaimed coming-of-age tale Reasons to be Cheerful, featuring Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ greatest hits performed live, make a return to London following its acclaimed UK tour. 
  • Tin Bath Theatre presents Bee Detective, a funny, fast and physical children’s show that invites you into the inner sanctum of a bee hive to help solve a honey bee murder mystery.
  • Be prepared to be surprised and delighted as Bobby Baker’s wellness roadshow Mad Gyms & Kitchens comes to London. Developed out of her own experiences of illness and hard-won recovery, Bobby’s exceptionally funny show investigates how to get better at feeling better – using a fantastical ‘recovery’ apparatus.
  • Writer Kaite O’Reilly, winner of the Ted Hughes Award for Poetry 2010, has written the poignant text for a new production, In Water I’m Weightless, which brings National Theatre Wales to London for the first time. Six of the very best Deaf and disabled performers in the UK, including David Toole and Mat Fraser, will be swapping roles and using intense physicality and dance to tell vivid stories inspired by interviews Kaite O’Reilly carried out with disabled people across the UK.