Performing Disability Histories

Who We Are?

Academic Staff

In this section:

Sonali Shah

Dr Sonali Shah is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Disability Studies in the School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds. Her research adopts different qualitative methodologies to examine the impact of public policy on the historical and generational experiences of disabled people. She previously held a Nuffield Career Development Fellowship, and developed a qualitative longitudinal study to examine disability and social change between post WWII and 21st Century England. This is documented in her recent co-authored book Disability and Social Change in Britain: Private Lives & Public Policies (2011, Policy Press). She is also sole author of Young Disabled People: Choices, Aspirations and Constraints (2008, Ashgate) and Career Success of Disabled High-flyers (2005, Jessica Kingsley Publishers).

Sonali is the Principal Investigator on this collaborative ESRC funded project


Mick Wallis

Mick Wallis is Professor of Performance and Culture in the School of Performance and Cultural Industries at the University of Leeds. His interests include theatre pedagogy, performance theory and cultural histories of performance (including both practice-based and paper-based productions). He developed interests in participatory and embodied arts experience for people with multiple access needs through a National Teaching Fellowship and the Arts Work With People Project (in collaboration with Salamanda Tandem, Nottingham).

Mick is Co-Investigator on the project.


Phillip Kisley

Philip Kiszley is Lecturer in Applied Theatre in the School of Performance and Cultural Industries at the University of Leeds. He teaches on a variety of film and popular culture related modules, all of which are informed by his current research. After graduating from the University of Manchester, he stayed there to hold a Temporary Lectureship in Screen Studies. In 2005, he moved to the School of Performance and Cultural Industries as a Research Fellow in Drama, and took up the Applied Theatre Lectureship in September 2009. He is author of the award-nominated monograph, Hollywood Through Private Eyes, published in 2006, and is editor of a forthcoming academic journal titled Punk & Post-Punk. He is joint Co-Investigator on this project with Mick Wallis.

Fiona Conor

Fiona ConorFiona read Theatre and Performance at the University of Leeds. While at undergraduate level, she specialised in Applied Theatre and worked on several Theatre-in-Education projects. These included partnerships with various primary and secondary schools in the North and West Yorkshire regions.

Continuing her study at the University of Leeds, Fiona gained her MA (Performance, Culture and Context) in 2011. At taught post-graduate level she explored emergent performance practice, considering innovative work in relation to the wider and shifting contexts of contemporary culture.    Her interests lie primarily in drama techniques for empowerment and improving communication skills. She has worked to this end with several client groups, including learning disabled adults. Current doctoral training progresses along similar lines, but relates specifically to the understanding of cancer and other health issues in learning disabled adults.

Fiona is employed as the Research Assistant /Dramaturg on the project


In this section:

Richard Rieser

Richard Rieser is the managing director of World of Inclusion Ltd and is an expert disabled international equality trainer, consultant and teacher inclusive education and disability equality in the education system. He was the founder and Director of Disability Equality in Education for 17 years until it closed on 31st March 2009.
Richard has written a number of books and made several films in the area of disability equality. Richard works with schools in the UK and around the world. He is also the Coordinator of UK Disability History Month.


Isabel Jones

Isabel Jones is a dance artist, singer, and composer, specialising in human interaction and socially engaged performance. In 1989 she co-founded Salamanda Tandem and as artistic director brings together sensory experts, dancers, sculptors, poets, filmmakers, musicians, and writers, to research, redefine and establish creative dialogue between people and art forms. Deeply committed to both embodied expression, and critical reflection, Isabel works as an evaluator and educator in a number of universities, and with professionals across the fields of healthcare, education and the arts both nationally and internationally.

Particularly significant is the long association with Leeds University PCI and Mick Wallis who along with associate arts practitioners, and several thousand participants have enriched Salamanda Tandem’s practice, supporting the (as yet) unrealised ambition for attitudinal change, through making thought provoking art, inventing new processes, evaluation and publishing the work.

Web site:
Current projects and debate:


In this section:

David Toole

David came into dance through workshops with CandoCo Dance Company in 1992. While working with them, he studied for a year at the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance, receiving a Professional Diploma in Community Dance in 1993. Six years of national and international touring with CandoCo followed, until 1999, when he decided to try new experiences. In 1995, David had his first taste of theatre when he played the part of Puck in Benjamin Britten’s opera of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This was followed a year later with an appearance in the Sally Potter film The Tango Lesson, playing the part of the designer.

David has also performed with Graeae Theatre Company in 2000 and also 2001, playing the parts of Edgar in The Fall of the House of Usher and Deflores in The Changeling respectively. In the summer of 2000, he worked with DV8, creating and performing the piece Can We Afford This for the Sydney Arts Festival prior to the 2000 Olympics. This show was revived in 2003 and also led to the film version of the show being made that year. Since then, David has done more theatre work, notably with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2007 and most recently working on three separate site specific pieces with the Leeds based company Slung Low. David now works as a freelance dancer, actor and workshop leader. He has recently been working with Cape Town based Remix Dance Company, Lucy Hind and Dom Coyote creating a new work for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

Theatre credits include I’ll be the Devil (RSC), Where’s Vietnam? (Red Ladder), Blasted, The Iron Man (Graeae), Dodgems (CoisCeim) and They only come at night-Resurrection (Slung Low)

Film credits include Cost of Living (DV8, Lloyd Newson), The Tango Lesson (Sally Potter) and Amazing Grace (Michael Apted)

TV includes Rome (HBO), I’m Spazticus (CH4), Outside In (BBC) and Naked on the Inside (Kim Farrant)

Jamie Beddard

Jamie Beddard is an actor, writer and Theatre-In-Education specialist. His TV and film credits include Skalligrigg, Quills, I.D., Carrie’s War and The Egg. He was formerly Associate Director at Graeae Theatre Company (a disability theatre company) with particular responsibility for the company’s education and new writing work (e.g. teaching on the ‘Missing Piece’ course, leading workshops and writing/developing forum projects). His recent disability-inspired piece The Last Freakshow was widely acclaimed.

Nicola Miles-Wildin

Nicola Miles-Wildin is an actress and drama facilitator, with a particular interest in Theatre In Education. She is an Associate Artist for Graeae Theatre Company. Her theatre credits include: Peeling (Forest Forge Theatre Company), Beat Them Join Them (Immediate/Face Front) Clutter Keeps Company (Birds Of Paradise), Just Me Bell (Graeae) The Glass Menagerie (New Wolsey) and Flower Girls (Graeae) Radio credits: Journey To Starlight Mountain, Positive, Paradise Place, Landfall, Blackhearts In Battersea, and Our Mutual Friend (all for BBC Radio 4) and Being Brave (BBC World Service).

Pilot Schools

The project team worked with three secondary schools to pilot the two different performance workshops led by Dave Toole and Jamie Beddard. Film clips have been used in the Learning Resource Pack. The three pilot schools involved were Cathedral Academy for Performing Arts, Cockburn School and Garforth Academy.

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