ACK Lab is an interdisciplinary venture that aims to provide resources and space for inclusive collaboration within the theatre community.

Since early 2015, PTC has been learning about inclusion. Artists with a lived experience of disability are underrepresented on stage and as writers, directors, designers – in every aspect of the Canadian theatre world. So we decided to investigate how we make theatre at PTC, and how we can work differently to include artists we’ve been excluding. We’ve been lucky to have Inclusive Design expert Jan Derbyshire lead our focused project, the ACK Lab, which was funded by a Bly Creative Capacity Grant, and a Leadership for Change Grant.

We had six months of intense conversation, learning the social model of disability, and looking at our Writers’ Colony as a test case. With Jan as our Dramaturg, we brought writers Janet Hinton, Heidi Janz, and Adam Warren together as our 2015 Colony, with the emerging dramaturgs of Delinquent Theatre, Christine Quintana and Laura McLean. Through workshops with actors – including actors with a lived experience of disability – design sessions, and intense dramaturgical meetings, all three writers transformed their drafts. These collaborations in turn transformed PTC’s ways of working, and our understanding of access as a constant process of learning and negotiation.

If there is one primary idea we’d like to share, it’s that artists need to have power to self-determine their own processes, and to develop and tell their own stories. “Nothing about us without us” is real, and needs to be measured by who has the power and who is getting paid.

We’re at the beginning of a journey, and we’ll be sharing our discoveries and resources in a series called Infrequently Asked Questions. Sign up for the newsletter to get your IFAQs regularly.