There’s a pressing issue facing theatre in the UK, and it’s not necessarily about diversity, inclusivity or equality: it’s about invisibility. The makeup of British society is evolving, yet when many groups – perhaps those with disabilities, transgender people, ethnic minorities, refugees, older citizens – look into the mirror of the arts, they see nothing reflected back. Our culture does not show them, or speak to (or for) them.

We’ve brought together leading voices and experts from the theatre world to discuss why the UK’s theatrical landscape seems untouched by our changing society. Co-curated and chaired by Iain Bloomfield, artistic director of Theatre in the Mill, this will be a far-reaching, boundary-pushing debate looking at the issues around making, showing and touring theatre, focusing on key questions such as whose stories do we tell, where and how do we tell them, and what does it mean? Iain is joined by Kully Thiarai (National Theatre Wales), Alan Lyddiard (The Performance Ensemble), Jenny Sealey MBE (Graeae) and Neil Darlison (Arts Council England) for what’s sure to be a challenging, informative event.

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Neil Darlison

Neil joined Arts Council England in 2010 as Director of Theatre for London and became National Director in 2013. Neil has worked for the National Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre, Serious Music, the BBC and the Southbank Centre. He co-founded Music Beyond Mainstream and was Executive Producer of This Way Up. Neil is a fellow of the Clore Leadership Programme.

Alan Lyddiard

Alan Lyddiard is an award-winning theatre and film director and artistic director of The Performance Ensemble, a company of performers over the age of 60 creating contemporary theatre works for audiences of all ages. He is currently directing ‘Contained’ a touring performance piece for Mind The Gap Theatre, Bradford.


Jenny Sealey

Jenny Sealey MBE co-directed the London 2012 Paralympics Opening Ceremony alongside Bradley Hemmings (GDIF). She has been artistic director and CEO of Graeae since 1997 and has pioneered a new theatrical language: the creative integration of sign language and audio description within performance. Jenny has been awarded the Liberty Human Rights Arts Award, is an honorary Doctor of Drama at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Middlesex University and a Fellow of the Central School of Speech and Drama and Rose Bruford College.

Kully Thiarai

Kully Thiarai is an experienced Theatre Director and CEO of National Theatre Wales. She has extensive experience of commissioning, producing and directing work nationally and internationally and has created a diverse range of work that spans communities, cultures and performance styles. Kully is a Clore Theatre Fellow; Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts; Chair of Z-arts, Manchester and Trustee of the Manchester International Festival.

Iain Bloomfield

Iain Bloomfield is the outgoing Artistic Director and Head of Arts at the University of Bradford.  He has a thirty (plus) year career making and developing new performance work in theatres and community spaces. He will continue to do a lot more of that when he leaves.