Monday 17 December 2018

Actress with intellectual disability cast as Rose in Dancing at Lughnasa for the first time

Jenny Cox who plays Rose in Brian Friel's Dancing at Lunhasa produced by the Blue Teapot Theatre Company. Jenny is the first person with an Intellectual disability ever to play the character who also has an Intellectual disability. The show opened Thursday 24th in the Town hall theatre in Galway and runs till the 26th. Photo: Andrew Downes, XPOSURE
Jenny Cox who plays Rose in Brian Friel's Dancing at Lunhasa produced by the Blue Teapot Theatre Company. Jenny is the first person with an Intellectual disability ever to play the character who also has an Intellectual disability. The show opened Thursday 24th in the Town hall theatre in Galway and runs till the 26th. Photo: Andrew Downes, XPOSURE
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

An Irish theatre company made history last night when the curtain went up on their production of Brian Friel’s triple Tony award-winning play Dancing at Lughnasa.

For the first time in Ireland, the character of Rose is being played by a person with an intellectual disability.

In Friel’s script, Rose, a 32-year-old knitter, is described as “simple”.

According to the stage notes: “All her sisters are kind to her and protective of her.”

Jenny Cox who plays Rose in Brian Friel's Dancing at Lunhasa produced by the Blue Teapot Theatre Company. Jenny is the first person with an Intellectual disability ever to play the character who also has an Intellectual disability. The show opened Thursday 24th in the Town hall theatre in Galway and runs till the 26th. Photo: Andrew Downes, XPOSURE
Jenny Cox who plays Rose in Brian Friel's Dancing at Lunhasa produced by the Blue Teapot Theatre Company. Jenny is the first person with an Intellectual disability ever to play the character who also has an Intellectual disability. The show opened Thursday 24th in the Town hall theatre in Galway and runs till the 26th. Photo: Andrew Downes, XPOSURE

Actress Jenny Cox, who has Down’s Syndrome, will take on the role in the theatre production.

“Rose is the same as me,” Jenny said. “She is vulnerable but she's fun and cheeky, she's cheeky just like me.”

The play is being produced by Blue Teapot - an award winning theatre company for people with intellectual disabilities.

Petal Pilley, Blue Teapot’s Artistic Director, said she is “immensely proud” that Jenny has taken on the role of Rose.

“This play is a masterpiece of Irish literature and it’s wonderful that the audience will see it with unique perspective.

"Jenny brings a unique understanding to the part of Rose and will give  it a different quality and dynamic.

“She will understand and bring a realism to the character that people living without an intellectual disability cannot.”

Pilley hopes that other directors will consider casting actors with disabilities in future productions.

“Today people without a disability are still asked to play the part of people with a disability and it would be wonderful to give that opportunity to actors who have lived with that reality,” she said.

Sabina Higgins attended last night's performance.

Dancing at Lughnasa opened in the Town Hall Theatre Galway on Thursday 24 May and runs until Saturday 26 May at 8pm. Saturday matinee at 3pm.

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