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Can mimetics, a theatre-based practice, open possibilities for young people with learning disabilities? A capability approach


  • Jo Trowsdale,

  • Richard Hayhow

Address for correspondence:

Jo Trowsdale

University of Warwick – Institute of Education

Kirby Corner Road

Coventry, West Midlands





While the significance of the social model of disability for articulating inclusive approaches in education is recognised, the application of capability theory to education is less well developed. This article by Jo Trowsdale of the University of Warwick and Richard Hayhow of Open Theatre considers how a particular theatre-based practice, here described as ‘mimetics’, can alter and extend the aspirations and achievements of children and young people with learning disabilities, and might be understood as applied capability theory or ‘capability practice’. Mimetics has been crafted from experimental psycho-physical actor-training processes by Open Theatre Company working in collaboration with actors with learning disabilities, and adapted to support the learning and development of young people with learning disabilities. This study draws upon an action research project set up by Creative Partnerships with Open Theatre Company and a special school, where children demonstrated increased motivation and capacity for communication and socialisation, improved well-being, learning and wider achievement. To illustrate the process, we offer a case study of one child with an autistic spectrum disorder.