By Jenny Maguire
At Sean Gilligan Performing Arts (SGPA), inclusion is at the forefront. We strive to ensure every student and staff member feels empowered, supported and uplifted from rehearsal to stage, irrespective and because of, their differences. SGPA believes that theatre is for all and that all who theatre is for, should be celebrated. We, at Sean Gilligan Performing Arts, recognise theatre as a place of refuge for so many people, so ensuring that this safe, open and inclusive environment exists, is incredibly important to us. We work to achieve this at every step of our theatre making process.
Key aspects of our diversity and inclusivity policy:
Breaking down elitism
Operating as a meritocracy
Grounding ourselves in the joy of Musical Theatre
At SGPA, we believe the meritocracy in which we operate, flies in the face of elitism. During auditions, candidates are assessed on merit only. We pride ourselves on holding open call auditions for both in-house and external shows where possible, with the exception of select private engagements.
From the foundation of the school, the breakdown of elitism has been a must. The school has always recognised the historic classism present in musical theatre education in Ireland, and has taken measures to break down this very classism within our own community. Most of our classes offer monthly payment options, with workshops and camps also providing the option to pay in instalments.
From the concept stage of every show right up to the actual performance, we take pride in the diverse range of contributing voices on our production team. Our strong belief in multiple perspectives in our creative process both enriches and empowers our students.
SGPA recognises the power that theatre holds in its story telling, and the impact of our decisions on the story. Throughout our audition process, ensuring gender-blind and colour-conscious casting going forward is a priority when casting an SGPA show. We recognise our past productions where this was not the case which include Hairspray (2017) and West Side Story (2016) but we now understand and appreciate the insensitivity and ignorance of colour-blind casting at the school. We at SGPA, as a meritocracy, are dedicated to casting on merit alone, whilst also holding the importance of conscious casting as a fundamental feature of our school
Throughout our classes/rehearsals, it is imperative that we do our best to cater for the unique needs of every student, in a respectful and understanding manner. We welcome all students with any disability or additional needs at SGPA. We believe the differing abilities of our students are not a barrier to overcome, but something to showcase and celebrate.
The celebration of our LGBTQIA+ staff and students has been a crucial part of what SGPA stands for, for decades. Our gender-blind casting, as well as catering to each student’s individual comfort zone, ensures that a student’s gender identity or expression would not limit their time in our school, but instead, act as a tool for them to thrive. We, as a school, have taken part in numerous Pride events, including Dublin Pride in 2015, with our ethos of equality and fairness firmly woven into the seams of the school itself.
Let's Work Together
The importance of musical theatre lies in the joy it brings to audiences, performers and anyone who is lucky enough to experience it. As a result, it is crucial that any barriers to this are broken down within our school. We at SGPA believe that a more diverse and inclusive world is beneficial to all of us and we wish to ensure that our school community is as diverse and inclusive as it possibly can be.