This site now acts as an archive only. For the latest news, opinion, blogs and listings on disability arts and culture visit

Disability Arts Online

Colin Hambrook discusses the audio-described short film of Claire Cunningham's 'Ménage à Trois' / 5 September 2012

A photograph of a woman suspended horizontally on crutches wearing a black evening dress and feather boa.

Claire Cunningham explores new relationships in Ménage à Trois

Zoom in to this image and read text description

In my commissioning role of gathering responses to Unlimited @ Southbank the performance that DAO writers have been most enthusiastic about seeing in their communications with me, has been Claire Cunningham's 'Ménage à Trois'.

Watching the audio-described version of the 90 second pushmmeplease film on the Space makes you realise how audio-description can be used creatively and dramatically to enhance the filmic art process.

Using the beat and tempo of the short film, Sarah Pickthall's audio-description adds layers of poetic description to the work, dissolving the concept of 'accessibility'.

For the last two decades there have been wrangles around the costs for including audio-description. It is one of those resources that has huge cost implications in terms of the numbers of visually impaired people who actually make use of it. Often the equipment doesn’t work properly; and the description itself can often be dry and unimaginative.

The argument for adding description as an integral creative layer that everyone can enjoy is exemplified in Sarah's short film. She describes as someone with a background in dance with a clear but poetic intent in looking at Claire’s short emotive filmed performance.

It is clear to me that disabled artists are leading the way in developing creative approaches to the arts, inventing new ways of accessing art. In terms of digital and online exposure to the arts, this piece offers something unique and demands a question about whether poets should or could be utilized to provide creative descriptions that could be embedded in the Art.

If you haven't watched it already do go to You have to click on the AD button to hear Sarah's piece.

You can read a review of Claire Cunningham's Ménage à Trois at  the Tramway, Glasgowby, by Paul F Cockburn at

Claire Cunningham's performance of Ménage à Trois is in the Queen Elizabeth Hall on Saturday 8th September at 8pm

Keywords: dance,performing arts