In 2013, a creative partnership was formed between Blue Roo Theatre Company Inc. and Opera Queensland.
Blue Roo provides opportunities for people with disabilities to actively involve themselves in performing arts activities. Opera Queensland’sOpen Stageprogram embodies the company’s mission to reflect, celebrate and enrich life in communities and to provide hands-on arts experiences.
With funding provided by Arts Queensland and Disability Services Queensland, the partnership between the two companies came together creatively with a song-based production,Song Circle, performed over three days. Not all members of the Blue Roo ensemble were able to communicate verbally so some were assisted by their peers with signing. Some were in wheelchairs and performed a choreographed dance in their chairs illustrating their challenges but also the freedom they enjoy.
There were strong benefits on both sides arising from the collaboration. Manager ofOpen Stage, Mark Taylor noted that the Opera Queensland artists expanded their professional empathy, understanding and patience through the development of the project and Clark Crystal, Artistic Director of Blue Roo, said, 'The profilehas been exceptional. For the company it has provided a new level of artistic status. Blue Roo performers have developed skills including voice production, capacity building, style of presentation, and the ability to accept professional criticism.'
In a happy footnote to this story, Blue Roo gained four year organisation state funding for the first time which Clark Crystal attributed largely to the collaboration with Opera Queensland.
The full account of the collaboration can be read here: