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Here’s a story of connections from IIAN

By Vicky Ireland, Secretary IIAN


1. In 2015, Roberto Frabetti, Director at La Baracca, Italy and Project Manager of ASSITEJ network Small size, big citizens, invited all the other ASSITEJ networks to meet in Bologna to see how we could help each other and work together. As a result he supported a piece of work from IIAN’s Chair, Daryl Beeton, for the following year.

I then worked with Daryl as dramaturg on his show, “It’s a Square World”, and the following year 2016, Roberto premiered it at La Baraca, "Visioni di futuro, visioni di teatro”… – accompanied by IIAN discussions.

2. Next! The show and discussions were attended by Professor Yuriko Kobayashi, of the Department of Child Studies at Tokyo City University. Yuriko was very interested in the show and the work of IIAN and reported back to JIENKYO (Japan Union of Theatrical Companies for Children and Young People) where she is a Board member.

JIENKO started in 1975. The union now has 63 professional companies in various genres such as musical, straight play, puppet play, shadow plat, pantomime and folk performing arts, all for children and young people.

3. Mr Akira Ota, the person within JIENKO with the responsibility of workshop/ lectures for professionals was particularly interested. He and Yuriko discussed more, and in response, Mr Ota applied for and received a subsidy from the government to have a visit from Daryl to give a  lecture and workshop during JIENKYO’s Annual Meeting in July 2017, allowing many members to have the chance to find out more about Disability arts. 

4. But then in May at The Cradle of Creativity in Cape Town, Mr Ota managed to see the wonderful performance, “What Goes Up”, for 3-7yrs created for Deaf children and using South African sign language, presented by company FTHK and directed by Jayne Batzofin, and at last, he himself realized just how important this work is and understood why Yuriko was so passionate about it. He felt it had changed his life.

5. In July this year, we visited JIENKO in Tokyo. We had a brilliant visit – Daryl’s workshop and lecture were very well received, and we are continuing to talk about future links. I accompanied Daryl as his support worker and also to talk about the work of IIAN and exchange ideas for the future.

Mr Ota is hoping to focus on productions featuring Disability in next year’s 2018 Asian Festival in Tokyo as well as an, ‘Inclusive festival for young Audiences in 2019’, which will be in preparation for World Congress in 2020.  

So thank you, Roberto, Yuriko san, Akira san, and all the lovely people at JIENKO who looked after us so well.

Here’s to the future, and the sharing of ideas around the world, so Disability Arts within ASSITEJ  can flourish.


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