Richard Hayhow is Director of Open Theatre Company. He is a highly experienced and widely recognised practitioner in actor training and theatre-making within a range of community, educational and mainstream theatre settings. Richard's chief skill lies in drawing out the creativity of all the people he works with in ways that enable the making of excellent theatre but which also have a significant impact on the lives of those involved.
Richard has for 25 years specialised in working with young people with learning disabilities and is at the forefront nationally of theatre practice in this area. As Director of Open Theatre Company he set up and was Artistic Director of The Shysters, a company of actors with learning disabilities, and developed a unique non-verbal theatre practice informed by the creative practice of The Shysters.
Richard’s work has also encompassed a wide variety of roles and complementary skills that have allowed him to explore and deepen his practice – director, playwright, deviser, consultant, fundraiser, project manager, researcher, trainer, educationalist, and disseminator.
He has just completed work as an adviser to a new Channel 4 TV series ‘No Offence’ supporting the work of a number of actors with Down’s Syndrome as members of the cast.
Open Theatre Company have been specialists in working with young people with learning disabilities of all ages since 1990. They use our uniquely developed theatre practice to enable their voice to be heard and their creativity celebrated: in the words of the Borderlines Director at New Vic Theatre, our practice creates ‘great actors and great people’. They engage in ‘deep and meaningful interventions’ in the lives of YPWLD (ACE report) collaboratively developing participants’ understanding of their own strengths, enriching lives and creating a sense of possibility. Open Theatre Company are the only arts organisation in the West Midlands working exclusively with YPWLD to advance full and fair access for this still marginalised group of people to a diverse, multi-faceted and co-ordinated cultural offer.