Our history

Since 1980, Graeae has achieved an international reputation as a pioneer of accessibility in world-class theatre, with the original impetus of its founders still at its very core.

Nabil Shaban and Richard Tomlinson founded Graeae in 1980. Having met at college in Coventry, creating productions involving disabled people, their shared vision was to dispel images of defencelessness, together with prejudices and popular myths, around disabled people… through theatre, workshops and training.

By May 1980, a company of disabled performers was established to perform the first ever Graeae play Sideshow.

Writing in Disability, Theatre and Education in 1982, Richard Tomlinson said ‘The story (of the Graeae) appealed to both of us. We were happy to concoct morals on the subject of disabled people supporting each other.’

Nabil Shaban remains a patron of the company.

Graeae Timeline

Take a look at all our shows from the beginning on our production timeline here.

The Myth

According to Greek legend, the three Graeae sisters shared an eye and a single tooth. When Perseus stole them, the sisters revealed how to kill the Medusa, but he broke his oath and threw away their life source. The Graeae ethos is grounded in working together and sharing resources.

We are often asked how Graeae is pronounced so we wanted to share the correct pronunciation: “grey-eye”.

The below animation, with illustration by Graeae patron Sir Peter Blake, narration by Graeae co-founder Nabil Shaban, words by Write to Play writer Sean Burn and animation by Dog & Rabbit, was originally created for the Graeae and Central Illustration Agency exhibition Reframing the Myth exhibition in February 2016.

The Graeae Myth from Graeae on Vimeo.