Nathan Geering on making accessible performance work: feeling the fear and doing it anyway

Dr Amy Mallett
5 min readMay 26, 2021

Part 2 of an interview with Nathan Geering; accessibility innovator, theatre maker and chief executive of The Rational Method.

What do you think are the key challenges facing artists trying to integrate accessibility within their creative practice?

The first key challenge is fear. They are just afraid. Afraid to ask questions, to just try stuff, to fail. That’s the biggest hurdle. They are afraid to offend somebody, afraid to look stupid. But if you can get over that fear and just start the work and be constantly in consultation with disabled people, you often find that it is nowhere near as daunting or as difficult as you think it will be. Procrastination is your biggest limitation.

Second to that is other people’s perceptions and expectations. Artists may feel that successful performance can only be done in a mainstream kind of way. But the ways they are used to, or have always known, may only cater for non-disabled audiences and artists. So it’s really about being able to challenge other people’s perceptions, and doing the work regardless. If we let other people limit us, new work doesn’t get made and then we don’t have a strong body of work that we can use to challenge the status quo with. It will always just be a little bit, little breadcrumbs here and there, which isn’t enough. Whereas if we keep making work irrespective of what other people say and tolerate uncertainty, we can learn from our failures and turn them into huge successes.

How do we as artists who are working in this way, encourage other artists to be brave, to get over that fear?

Lead by example; make the work and wherever possible talk to other artists about our fears and how we overcame them, so they can see that it’s ok to be afraid, you don’t get it right all the time. When you show your vulnerability, you show you are human.

Once you can find ways to tolerate uncertainty, you don’t think about the unknowns in the same way. You can accept that all the mistakes you make and failures you have are part of the process. A setback is just a set up to a greater success.

But you can only do what you can do; it’s not our job to fix everyone else’s internal…

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Dr Amy Mallett

Composer, theatre-maker, researcher and arts-health practitioner