Video: The making of A Different Romeo and Juliet

Tags: Arts and disability International collaboration Shakespeare Video

Graeae’s Jenny Sealey spent two years working with a group of young disabled Bangladeshis. Watch our documentary of the young peoples’ journey as they prepare to perform on stage for the first time

Follow the journey of a talented group of young disabled people in Bangladesh preparing to perform for the first time at Dhaka’s most prestigious theatre – the first time the venue has ever presented disabled performers.

This is our documentary on the making of A Different Romeo and Juliet. Jenny Sealey, Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre Company works in collaboration with Nasiruddin Yousuff, founder of Dhaka Theatre to develop the young peoples' skills and confidence as performers and to prepare a brand new production. We hear the young Bangladeshis’ personal stories, the discrimination they’ve faced and their hopes for the future. How will they cope with performing in front of a big international audience?

"It actually brought a tear to my eye"

It’s part of a pioneering project from the British Council, Graeae and Dhaka Theatre, in a country where disabled people are usually kept away from society. Our aims were to address the marginalisation of disabled people, make theatre in Bangladesh more inclusive and offer audiences a new experience. The project was inspired by a visit to the Unlimited Festival, the UK’s festival of work by disabled artists, in 2012 when Sealey was fresh from success as Co-Artistic Director of the London 2012 Paralympics Opening Ceremony.

“The leaders of Bangladesh should recognise these people”

The young performers were drawn from different disabled groups in Bangladesh, and they worked with Sealey and Yousuff over two years. We presented their first performance together on the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, as part of the British Council’s year-long celebration of Shakespeare’s life and work, Shakespeare Lives.

"Something like this in Bangladesh for the first time – it actually brought a tear to my eye," says an audience member in the documentary. “The leaders of Bangladesh society and politics and culture – they should recognise these people,” says Yousuff. “That they are human beings and they have the same rights we have, but they are deprived of these rights. Through Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, they will definitely prove that they are capable of doing anything.”


Find out more:

Watch the documentary trailer

Read a feature about the project in The Stage

Catch up on coverage celebrating the Unlimited Festivals and exploring issues in disability arts

Experience an online festival of Shakespeare as part of Shakespeare Lives with the BBC

Watch our live stream of Forced Entertainment’s Complete Works: Tabletop Shakespeare

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