From Stage to Society - an international community are working to REIMAGINE disability through the Covid-19 crisis and beyond

From Stage to Society – an international community brought together through Shakespeare are working to REIMAGINE disability through the Covid-19 crisis and beyond. 

A global community from across six continents, came together at Hamlet’s Castle in Elsinore, Denmark in 2019 – using Shakespeare as a catalyst to REIMAGINE disability in the 21st century. Now, they are taking their ideas from Stage to Society, creating a Living Declaration of Disability, Equity and Resilience as a global call to action during the Covid-19 crisis and beyond.  

In the summer of 2019 at Hamlet’s Castle in Elsinore, Denmark – a new production of Richard III was being performed. The production of Richard III – one of theatre’s most well-known characters with disability – was a catalyst for a global project to explore and reimagine disability across cultures and continents. As Richard III took to the stage, an international community of activists, artists, scientists, architects and more gathered as part of the REIMAGINE Festival – seeking to take ideas and inspiration around reimagining disability from stage to society. 

In March 2020, a core group from the REIMAGINE community reconvened virtually – this time to create global awareness and action around disability in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis and beyond. Together, they drafted The Living Declaration – a powerful and potent set of affirmations, ideas and solutions for creating more resilience and equity around disability, human rights and health. 

“There is great strength and hope to be found in building community across cultures and countries in this difficult moment.” say Jacob Nossell, Head of Communication, and Daniel Oxenhandler, Head of Culture in Enactlab, the organizers and conveners of the REIMAGINE community. 

“When it comes to reimagining disability, we believe it is crucial to work across borders and disciplines, and combining global collaboration with local action.” 

A call to action 

The Living Declaration is meant to be brought to life and given shape and form by communities around the world. People around the world can also contribute their own ideas and declarations – to continue growing and expanding the scope of the declaration. The initial text and articles can be adapted and evolved to suit the context of each community. 

Vulnerable populations in our communities are being affected and dying in disproportionate numbers, as the pandemic carries on, and we urgently need solutions to create more equitable public health systems says Vitor Pordeus – a transcultural community psychiatrist and theatre actor from Rio de Janeiro using Shakespeare and theatre as tools for community health promotion. Vitor is a core member the global REIMAGINE community.  

“The declaration is meant to spark urgent debate and action around constructive solutions to protect these vulnerable populations – from policy change to community health practices and pedagogies which promote autonomy and a culture of solidarity and cooperation.”  

He alludes to, The Living Declaration is also meant to serve as a call to action – providing clear mandates and constructive solutions for how to make societies more equitable and resilient for people with disabilities, from healthcare to policy and beyond. 

“There has never been a better time to set out a new program for people with disabilities,” says Hillary Lane – coordinator of AfriNEAD, the African Network for Evidence to Action in Disability, and member of the REIMAGINE community. “Through Enactlab and the Living Declaration, we call upon our leaders to be mindful of our needs and include us in the new, evolving world.” 

Global Collaboration, Local Action 
Ultimately, the Living Declaration is meant to serve as a catalyst to create an international dialogue and community around disability, equity and human rights – combining global collaboration with local action. People around the world can sign the declaration, contribute their own ideas, and adapt and evolve the Living Declaration to enact and drive action in their own communities.  

Facts: 

The Living Declaration of Disability, Resilience and Equity aims to bring awareness about and for people with disabilities under Covid-19. Many people with disabilities have different and special needs under Covid-19. The Living Declaration points to the challenges and solutions for people with disabilities under this crisis. It is also a truly living document – where people are encouraged to add ideas, adapt and evolve the declaration for use in their own communities. 
www.thelivingdeclaration.org 

The UN points to Persons with disabilities generally have more healthcare needs than others. Among 43 countries, 42 per cent of persons with disabilities versus 6 per cent of persons without disabilities perceive their health as poor. 

Read the official press release about The Living Declaration here.