Setting a New Standard for the Screen Industries

Setting a New Standard for the Screen Industries: Hijinx's New ReFocus Training Equips Cast & Crew to be Skilled & Confident Working with Learning Disabled and/or Autistic Adults on Set

Hijinx Theatre, one of Europe’s leading inclusive theatre companies, has launched a new interactive training programme to help those working across the screen industry in the UK and beyond to enhance their skills and confidence when communicating with learning disabled and/or autistic adults on set, in development and behind the camera. It’s the first interactive, inclusivity training programme of its kind with the course co-facilitated by neurodivergent actors, putting them in the driving seat to enact industry change.

There is a significant shortfall in representation of learning disabled and/or autistic actors, TV and film crew in the screen industry. Latest figures from Diamond - The 5th Cut (from Creative Diversity Network) found that 6% of off-screen and 8.3% of on-screen contributions were made by disabled people - significantly lower than the 18% rate of disabled people in the UK population.

To address this problem, Hijinx has launched the ReFocus training programme; a one day course, starting in Cardiff and soon to roll out across the country, that will help people across the industry – from commissioners to camera and lighting teams, presenters, actors, catering staff, producers and make up and costume teams – to understand the experiences of Hijinx actors alongside other creative facilitators and learn new ways to confidently interact with adults who are neurodivergent and/or learning disabled. This innovative new approach means this will be the first experiential learning disability inclusion training of its kind, in which participants will learn in a relaxed and interactive environment to put their skills into practice and overcome stereotypical avoidance.

Sarah Horner, Hijinx’s Chief Executive said

“Our ambition is to address the significant gap in sector skills and we firmly believe a training course such as ReFocus should be a new industry standard for all those in the industry to attend. People are often unsure how to approach and communicate with colleagues who are neurodivergent and/or learning disabled, and through a fear of not doing or saying the right thing, often choose avoidance which results in a very isolating experience for that individual. It’s a human need to feel acknowledged and many of us take for granted a day at work being a chance to connect with others, to laugh with and learn from colleagues. We want to support those working across the industry with the confidence and skills to include rather than alienate those who are disabled.”

Hannah Thomas, Severn Screen, producer of Craith/Hidden has collaborated with Hijinx on numerous projects including recently working with Hijinx actor Justin Melluish, who has Down’s syndrome, when he recently starred in BBC’s crime drama Hidden.

Hannah said:

          ‘I honestly think it’s hugely important for us to increase our representation on screen. Working with Hijinx has made us want to do it again and again and again on every single production.’

Another Hijinx actor, Tommy Rhys-Powell, who starred in Glitch added:

“Working as a professional actor feels like inspiration. Helping other people to admire our work. It helps me to express my feelings to the world. ReFocus will help give other learning-disabled actors that chance, too.”

Recognising its significance to the industry and society as a whole, ReFocus has received funding support from Welsh Government via Creative Wales’s new Creative Skills Fund. This enables Hijinx to roll-out various subsidised pricing including some free places, to ensure cost is not a barrier to participants.

Deputy Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Dawn Bowden, said:

“One of the key purposes of the new Creative Wales Creative Skills Fund was to identify and tackle challenges in the creative industries. Research undertaken shows that there is more work to be done in representation of learning disabled and/or autistic people on screen and behind the camera, so I am delighted that we are able to support Hijinx’s ReFocus project, which will help Wales lead the way in addressing this issue and create more opportunities for people.

Booking is now live for ReFocus training and anyone working in the screen industry (TV, film, gaming) is welcomed. The first two dates available are 26 + 27 September 2023, taking place at the Tramshed Tech in Grangetown, with many more dates planned through the year.

Pricing for the one day course is £26 for those working in small organisations (less than 25 staff) and £72 for larger organisations. Bookings are made online at

A limited number of free spaces will be made available to freelancers or those working in micro organisations. To find out more please email

Notes to editors

Media enquiries: Angharad Davies, AMD Communications,, +44 7838 394161.

Image credit: Jonathan Dunn

ReFocus Training


26th September

27th September

Where: Tramshed Tech in Grangetown.

To book:


Hijinx is one of Europe’s leading inclusive theatre companies, striving for equal representation and equity on stage, on screen and in life for learning disabled and/or autistic people, locally, nationally, and internationally for Wales and for the world.

The company’s acclaimed work is original, surprising, edgy, and funny and in huge demand across the globe, with productions including Meet Fred, The Flop and Into the Light travelling to over 20 countries in recent years.

Embracing the power of digital creation as a response to Covid isolation, Hijinx have continued to innovate with Are You OK? with Hong Kong Arts Festival No Limits, Metamorphosis, which won two awards at the Good Theatre Festival Awards: ‘Best Direction’ and ‘Most Innovative Use of Technology’, and digital hybrid theatre experience the_crash.test.

Around Wales Hijinx Academies provide professional drama training for 70 uniquely talented actors. These Hijinx Actors, who have conditions such as Down’s Syndrome and Autism, are at the heart of the company’s work in productions, in businesses and in community projects. They are promoted to the wider theatre, TV and film industries on, the UK’s largest casting platform dedicated to actors with learning disabilities and/or autism.

Hijinx’s aim to see more actors with learning disabilities and/or autism on TV and film, as well as on stage. Hijinx Films produces stunning short films to raise the profile and impact of the unique talents of Hijinx actors, and in 2018, the company published recommendations for new screen industry standards for casting learning-disabled (neurodivergent) actors. Hijinx PAWB offers a Wales-wide network of community drama courses for everyone who wants to act, regardless of ability or experience.

Alongside, Hijinx offers an award-winning, specialist training programme, which empowersstaff in a wide range of businesses with the confidence and skills to communicate more effectively.

Hijinx are a part of Arts Council Wales National Portfolio and receive funding from a range of generous supporters including the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Rayne Foundation, CreativeWales, Simon Gibson Charitable Trust, Moondance Foundation, National Lottery Community Fund and Genesis Foundation.

For the latest Hijinx news and updates, see the website Follow Hijinx on Twitter and Instagram @HijinxTheatre or