The National Theatre of Namibia, in partnership with the Namibian National Association of the Deaf (NNAD), is calling for artists with disabilities over the age of 18 to book a slot and show the world what they’ve got.
The call-out invites artists, particularly dancers, poets and actors, to audition for an upcoming project aimed at combatting stereotypes and harmful practices, enforcing the rights and dignity of people with disabilities (PWD), while promoting awareness of their capabilities and contributions.
“Performing and other arts have always been dominated by people without disabilities and those with disabilities are left out. We want to ensure that people with disabilities are included everywhere,” says NNAD national director Paul Nanyeni.
“The Namibian public needs to appreciate the abilities of people with disabilities. Disability does not mean inability! PWDs have talents. They are able to do different things and can think and reason too. They too have emotions and can express themselves through different means,” he says.
“Art has a major effect on driving messages to the community to support, to change their mindset, and to include PWDs in decision-making, planning and development.”
Though Namibia has some of the best data and policies in place for PWDs, Nanyeni says the country is lagging on full implementation.
“During this time of Covid-19, for example, there is little effort directed to people with disabilities. However, in reality, PWDs are two times at risk of Covid-19. Visually impaired people can touch contaminated surfaces or be close to people without knowing,” says Nanyeni.
“Verbal messages are not reaching the deaf community due to inaccessibility. There is a theme that is used worldwide by PWDs: Nothing about us without us. However, in most cases, decisions, discussion and other planning relating to people with disabilities are spearheaded by people without disabilities.”
Nanyeni urges those auditioning to look into these and other realities as a basis from which to create art for the showcase.
“People with all types of disabilities are encouraged to audition. This is a platform to make our voices heard,” he says.
“Those who are interested have to prepare well to make the cut. A chance like this does not come often, thus we have to take it seriously. There are so many issues PWDs endure on a daily basis. Act it out and say what needs to be done.”
Interested artists can book a showcase slot at the National Theatre of Namibia, the NNAD, or a venue of their choice.
One-minute auditions take place from 09h30 to 16h00 from 10 to 21 May.