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Award-winning Spanish actors shine a light on disabled talent in arts with new play

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Comedy Champions
Comedy Champions   -   Copyright  Carlos Marlasca
By Rosa Isabella Jewell  & Carlos Marlasca

In 2018, a group of disabled actors in Spain broke down barriers in the film industry, winning a score of awards for their film Campeones.

Campeones, or Champions, was selected as the Spanish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards and won three Goya Awards, including Best Film, Best New Actor, and Best Original Song. 

Now the cast of the comedy-drama directed by Javier Fesser is back together to take on the world of theatre, performing a new play called Campeones de la comedia (Comedy Champions), which explores the lives of disabled people looking to break into the arts. 

The autobiographical element of the play cannot go unnoticed, as the actors themselves have lived similar lives to the characters they are playing. 

Actress Gloria Ramos said that despite theatre being a new challenge, having previously worked in front of a camera, she feels ”at home” in front of a live audience. 

The new piece premiered in Madrid, and will now tour the rest of Spain. 

Comedy Champions is a poignant example of how the visibility of disabled people in the performing arts is improving, says cast member and long-time actor Emilio Gariva.

"The stage is like an altar that magnifies everything going on in society, and I think it's wonderful and has changed a lot. I am convinced that more and more disabled actors will be seen," Gariva said.

About 20% of the shows that Spain's National Drama Centre premiered last season were inclusive, the most successful of which being Supernormales, which addresses sex in people with disabilities.