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01 November 2012

Graeae picks up diversity prize at the TMA Theatre Awards

EAST London disability theatre company Graeae has won the promotion of diversity of prize at the Theatrical Management Association (TMA) Theatre Awards.

The Kingsland Road company picked up the award for its inspired production Reasons to be cheerful, a coming of age tale that celebrates the music of Ian Dury and the Blockheads. The show toured seven UK venues, including Hackney Empire, and the company’s director Jenny Sealey visited theatres to help them improve access provision and service.

In addition, she directed the London 2012 Paralympic opening ceremony, featuring more than 3000 performers, Sir Ian McKellen, a rare appearance from Stephen Hawking and musicians from the Reasons to be Cheerful show.

She said: “Graeae has had the most extraordinarily diverse year artistically and worked with many casts and creative teams, It is brilliant that this has been recognised by the wider theatre industry."

Yet, she admitted the Paralympics opening ceremony was the ‘hardest thing I have ever done but I am aware how lucky I was to have the opportunity to create a show for such a prestigious world event’.

One particular highlight for Jenny was watching 44 diverse deaf and disabled people previously with little circus skills develop into high-flying performers.

“The group were made up of artists, ex-service men and ex-paralympians. I loved seeing them develop skills in trapeze, rope and hoop work and sway poles and being there to support them when there were tears of frustration because the training was so tough. They did it though and I now have a huge team to work with in future projects and the most awesome and dedicated volunteers.”

Into the future, Jenny also is determined to keep disability high on the public agenda, saying: “We have to continue to inform, challenge and advocate through our workshops, training and most importantly through our eclectic and diverse productions. Next year feels even more important in some ways as it is so vital that all is not lost or becomes back seated again.”

For more on TMA, visit: www.tmauk.org

Graeae Theatre director Jenny Sealey created the acclaimed Paralymic Games opening ceremony

Graeae Theatre director Jenny Sealey created the acclaimed Paralymic Games opening ceremony

Graeae Theatre director Jenny Sealey created the acclaimed Paralymic Games opening ceremony Reasons to be Cheerful was staged across the country and performed at the Paralympic opening ceremony

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