Kaite O'Reilly Shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize

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richard III redux [OR] Sara Beer [is/not] Richard III by Kaite O’Reilly has been shortlisted to win £10,000 in the reputable James Tait Black Prize at the Edinburgh Fringe. The play was written with Phillip B Zarrilli and produced by The Llanarth Group. The play was part of a three-piece shortlist, selected from 80 worldwide submissions.

The play is a riotous one-woman piece promoting inclusivity in the arts and written from a radical disability perspective.  It challenges Shakespeare’s representation of the disabled monarch and the creation of ‘the twisted body/twisted mind’ trope, satirising the non-disabled actors who have ‘cripped up’ to play the part in the past.

You can book tickets to the awards ceremony in Edinburgh here.

Read more.


Hayley Madden Photo Credit

Atypical Plays For Atypical Actors is the first of its kind: a collection of dramas which redefines the notion of normalcy and extends the range of what it is to be human. From monologues, to performance texts, to realist plays, these involving and subversive pieces explore disability as a portal to new experience.

Includes the plays: Peeling, The Almond and the Seahorse, In Water I’m Weightless, the 9 Fridas and Cosy.

Although disabled characters appear often in plays within the Western theatrical tradition, seldom have the writers been disabled or Deaf themselves, or written from those atypical embodied experiences. This is what contributes to making Kaite O’Reilly’s Selected Plays essential reading – critically acclaimed plays and performance texts written in a range of styles over twelve years, but all informed by a political and cultural disability perspective. They ‘answer back’ to the moral and medical models of disability and attempt to subvert or critique assumptions and negative representations of disabled people.

The selected plays and performance texts exhibit a broad approach to issues around disability. Some, like In Water I’m Weightless/The ‘d’ Monologues (part of the Cultural Olympiad and official festival celebrating the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics) are embedded in disability politics, aesthetics, and ‘crip’ humour. A montage of monologues that can be performed solo or as a chorus, they challenge the normative gaze and celebrate all the possibilities of human variety.   The Almond and the Seahorse is different, a ‘mainstream’ character-led realist drama about survivors of Traumatic Brain Injury, with subversive politics in its belly. A response to ‘tragic but brave’ depictions of head injury and memory loss, and informed by personal experience, the play interrogates the reality of living with TBI, questioning who the ‘victims’ are.

Peeling, a landmark play written for one Deaf and two disabled female actors, was originally produced by Graeae Theatre Company in 2002, 2003, and for BBC Radio 3. A ‘feminist masterpiece…quietly ground breaking’ (Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman), it has become a set text for Theatre and Drama and Disability Studies university degree courses in the UK and US. Frequently remounted, its lively meta-theatrical form supports its central themes of war, eugenics, and a woman’s control over her fertility, which are as relevant today as ever.  

The performance text the 9 Fridas is a complex mosaic offering multiple representations of arguably the world’s most famous female artist, Frida Kahlo, reclaiming her as a disability icon. Performed in Mandarin translation, it was the closing production of the 2014 Taipei Art Festival and will transfer to Hong Kong in October 2016. It is currently being translated into German, Hindi, and Spanish. 

Cosy is a darkly comedic look at the joys and humiliations of getting older and how we shuffle off this mortal coil. Three generations of a dysfunctional family explore their choices in a world obsessed with eternal youth, and asks whose life (or death) is it, anyway?  An Unlimited Commission, Cosy will premiere and tour nationally in 2016, appearing at the Unlimited Festivals at Southbank Centre and Tramway.

‘At Cardiff’s Wales Millennium Centre, an all-female, all-Welsh cast including Sharon Morgan will perform Kaite O’Reilly’s new play Cosy; a provocative, brutally honest but at times laugh-out-loud work that asks big questions about how – and when – our lives draw to a close. It will then be performed as part of the Unlimited festivals in London and Glasgow, in September 2016. This darkly comic new work combines an unflinching examination of our attitudes to youth, ageing and death, with an often hilarious and moving encounter between three generations of women.' – The Disability Arts Online

Kaite O’Reilly was on BBC Radio Wales with Nicola Haywood Thomas on 17th February and was also interviewed by Joe Turnbull for an article appeared on 4th March on The StageAmong the others, The Guardian also dealt with Kaite’s new play.

‘Kaite O’Reilly has always been a rule breaker… Her latest work Cosy… [is] ostensibly a traditional family drama encompassing three generations of women, which tackles the thorny issue of end-of-life scenarios and ageing.’ – Exeunt Magazine


In this article in the Wales Arts Review,  Kaite O' Reilly discusses her new play COSY, and its themes of aging and mortality. 

I want to handle this often feared topic with wit, as well as sobriety and respect. I love human beings ability to live joyfully and in the moment, despite the knowledge our time is finite and we will all die one day. How these two opposing perspectives co-exist is fascinating to explore theatrically – and the deceptions, avoidances, contradictions and confrontations within a family with distinct and different ethical, religious, and political perspectives

Performed by a cracking all-Welsh cast, COSY is a darkly comic look at three generations of women as they share the joys and humiliations of getting older.  This new work – at turns hilarious and heartbreaking – examines issues relevant to us all; youth, ageing, and the last, great taboo.

COSY will be performed at the Weston Studio in Cardiff from the 8th - 12th March. 

For more information follow this link


Kaite O’Reilly’s new play COSY will be the sole commission for Wales in the Unlimited Commissions 2015-16.

COSY is a black comedy exploring the pitfalls and blessings we experience as we age, asking whether there is ever a dignified way to loosen our grip on life. Through three generations of an incredibly dysfunctional family, we are called to consider what impact a society obsessed with youth has on our sense of self.

Unlimited is a project designed to commission disabled artists to create ambitious and high quality work in the fields of theatre, visual art, dance and literature. It is delivered in partnership by Shape and Artsadmin, with funding from Arts Council England, Creative Scotland, and Arts Council of Wales.

COSY will premiere at the Wales Millennium Centre, directed by Phillip Zarrilli and produced by Mike Salmon, in 2016.

For more information about Unlimited, please visit their website here.    



Kaite O’Reilly’s THE 9 FRIDAS to Premiere at the Taipei Arts Festival

Kaite O’Reilly’s new play THE 9 FRIDAS will have its world premiere in Taiwan this September.

The play was commissioned by Sherman Cymru, Wales, and will have its first performances at the 16th Taipei Arts Festival, presented by Mobius Strip Theatre and Hong Kong Repertory Theatre, and directed by Phillip Zarrilli.

THE 9 FRIDAS explores the life of the famous Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, revising conventional approaches to her story and examining Frida as an everywoman whose life and art has exceptional significance in the present day.

Here's the gorgeous trailer for the production:

Kaite is an award winning playwright and previous recipient of the Ted Hughes Award for Poetry and the Peggy Ramsay Award, and she has also been nominated for, among others, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

For more information on THE 9 FRIDAS, see the Taipei Arts Festival website here.