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Kaite O'Reilly

Kaite O'Reilly

Interweaving Performance Cultures

Fellow 2010/11, 2012/13, 2013/14, 2015/16

Kaite O’Reilly is a UK-based playwright and dramaturg who works in disability arts and culture and mainstream culture. She has won many awards for her work, including the Peggy Ramsay Award (Yard, Bush Theatre, London) and the Ted Hughes Prize for New Works in Poetry for her reworking of Aeschylus’s Persians, directed by Mike Pearson for the National Theatre Wales. In Water I’m Weightless, her Cultural Olympiad Commission for the official London 2012 Olympics/Paralympics festival, was produced by the National Theatre Wales at Southbank Centre. In 2016 Phillip Zarrilli will direct the world premiere of Cosy, a dark comedy about assisted death (Wales Millennium Centre), and the 9 Fridas, about disability icon Frida Kahlo, transferring from Taipei to Hong Kong Rep’ in Autumn 2016. Mandel und Seepferdchen premieres at Mainfranken Theater Würzburg in April 2016. Her plays are published by Faber & Faber, with Atypical Plays for Atypical Actors available from Oberon in Spring 2016.

For further information see: www.kaiteoreilly.com

Research Project

‘Crip’ Culture and Alternative Dramaturgies Informed by a Deaf and Disability Perspective

My plays dramaturgically interrogate Deaf culture, hearing culture, disability arts and culture, and non-disabled majority culture. Especially relevant within the context of ‘Interweaving Performance Cultures’ are questions of translation and translatability within different, disabled and non-disabled cultures and their specific forms of expression. During a period of attachment to the Institute, I would hope to explore issues of intercultural performance in several ways:

  • By reflecting on my work exploring alternative dramaturgies informed by a Deaf and disability perspective, specifically regarding the aesthetic, content, form, processes, and narratives in a series of my past works, including Silent Rhythm, In Praise of Fallen Women, peeling, In Water I’m Weightless, Woman of Flowers and the 9 Fridas.
  • By exploring issues of translation from spoken/written English into British Sign Language (BSL), a spatial, signed language which does not have a written form—and vice versa.

Much of my work explores issues of how distinctive Deaf and disability cultures operate with, against, and/or in opposition to ‘mainstream’ or ‘dominant’ cultural paradigms. I hope to further explore ‘crip’ aesthetics (integrated audio description, sign theatre, etc.), and alternative dramaturgies through reflections on recent productions (Women of Flowers 2014/15; the 9 Fridas 2014 and 2016, Cosy 2016).

Finally, through the analysis of a decade’s critical and cultural response to my public work, I hope to explore how a politicized ‘crip’ aesthetic created through the UK disability rights and cultural movement is received within a non-disabled majority culture context.

Selected Publications

  • Atypical Plays for Atypical Actors: Selected plays by Kaite O’Reilly, Oberon, 2016.
  • Woman of Flowers, Kaite O'Reilly, Aurora Metro (2014/15).


Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung