A group of local disabled artists dressed as sheep will be grazing through Stratford town centre at 2.30pm today, 3 December 2015, to mark International Day of Disabled People. 

The United Nations General Assembly declared 3 December to be International Day of Disabled People in 1992, to provide a focus for fostering better understanding of disability issues and respect for disabled people, and greater inclusion of disabled people in every aspect of society. This year’s theme is ‘Inclusion matters: access and empowerment of people of all abilities’.

The comic performance is part of the Together! 2015 Festival, which takes place as part of Disability History Month, and is funded by Arts Council England with further support from London Borough of Newham, Countryside Properties and Trinity Buoy Wharf. The Month’s national theme for 2015 is The Portrayal of Disabled People: Then and Now. Together! Artistic Director Ju Gosling said:

“Disabled people come from all backgrounds and everyone experiences impairment differently, but all too often disabled people are portrayed as being no different from each other than a herd of sheep. At the same time, there is a tendency to follow unthinkingly when stereotypes are created. We hope that people will stop to watch and have a chuckle, but also that they may remember in fact a quarter of the community are disabled, and are no different to anyone else.”

Performance directors Natural Diversions are a branch of the Natural Theatre Company, who have been making people laugh in nearly 80 countries for over 40 years. Combining a unique style of visual comedy with an impeccable eye for detail, they produce a delightfully absurd kind of comic interactive street theatre. In 2014, Natural Diversions were a major hit when they performed in Stratford’s Cultural Quarter to mark the official launch of Disability History Month on 22 November. This August they returned to Newham to work with locally based artists, who are appearing today.