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Atypical Plays for Atypical Actors: Selected Plays to be published in sync with the launch of Cosy / 4 January 2016

the cast of Kaite O'Reilly's play 'In Water I'm Weightless' strike a dramatic pose on stage

Photo of the cast from the production of 'In Water I'm Weightless', National Theatre Wales/Southbank Centre for Unlimited

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I’m delighted to make this pre-publication announcement: Oberon books will publish five of my plays and performance texts to coincide with the World premiere of Cosy at the Wales Millennium Centre in March 2016.

The news is so fresh, we haven’t yet settled on the image for the cover. I’ve been liaising with my agents and editor at Oberon about what production photographs to use after drawing up a shortlist by the fantastically talented Toby Farrow and Patrick Baldwin, who documented In Water I’m Weightless (National Theatre Wales) and peeling (Graeae Theatre Company) respectively. Mock-ups of the front and back covers will be made early in the New Year, with publicity bling thanks to Lyn Gardner, theatre critic for The Guardian. 

My long-term collaborator John McGrath, out-going artistic director of National Theatre Wales and in-coming director of the Manchester International Festival, will write the preface.

What follows is from Oberon books website:
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.

The book will be published 1 March 2016 and is available for pre-orders at Oberon and Amazon 
Kaite O'Reilly in association with Unlimited present Cosy at the Wales Millennium Centre from 8 to12 March 

Keywords: disability art,theatre,unlimited


Michael Northen

27 March 2012

Jim is indeed an outstanding leader in disability poetry and was great to work with in putting together Beauty is a Verb. Another review of Slouching Towards Guantanamo can be seen at

kaite O\'Reilly

4 December 2011

Thanks so much for your interest - Colin has passed on your email to me, so I'll be in touch.

You can see more about my work on my blog, which this is syndicated from: and my website, which is

I edited FACE ON:Disability Arts In Ireland and Beyond for Padraig Naughton and Arts Disability Ireland some years ago and tht, combined with hailing from Dublin, gives me a good sense of the difference in contexts and cultures to the Irish and UK disability arts scene - which is fascinating in itself.

It'd be great to have a natter and thanks for initiating this connection. Much appreciated.

Cathy O Kennedy

29 November 2011

Hi my name is Cathy and i am a Irish based Choreographer working with integrated dance processes. I was attracted to your writing because of it's title in addition to my interest in research with integrated dance in Ireland.I am currently working on a project titled 'WEIGHT' with dancers/ choreographers Bobby Byrne (Ireland and Spain) and Caroline Bowdwitch (Scottish Dance Theatre). Our process is based on Bobby's writing and it would be great to open a dialogue with your project. is that something you would be interested in?


22 September 2011

Umar, it's rare to read a piece written by a non-disabled person who has such an understanding of our experience.

Trish Wheatley

22 September 2011

I agree about DET in schools, it would make a big difference if done properly by high quality trainers with experience of disability.

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