Being selected for the disabled directors scheme left me chuffed to bits. I’d been looking for a way to broaden my creative life in Manchester for a while, (with some difficulty,) so it hit me up at the right time.
The Royal Exchange & RTYFS deserve a round of applause for actively trying to remove the multifaceted and intersectional barriers confronting disabled directors.
Being part of the group left me with a deeper appreciation of the barriers facing my disabled peers. My challenge now is in how I dismantle my role in creating and maintaining those barriers. How far is my own work empowering or disempowering change…
These are not the only questions I’m left pondering.
Bryony Shanahan’s workshop invited moments for deeper introspection.
“Why now? Why theatre? Why me?”
These deceptively simple questions have been haunting my work for about 5 years now. Somehow when she posed them they managed to embalm my self-doubt with the certainty of soul death. Yet Bryony’s capacity to open invisible lungs to breathe possibility into your moment of death is what makes her formidable. From invisible lungs floats possibility. Possibility of the vast, vacant future. Waiting; heavy, open. HEAVY. OPEN. READY. WAITING for the new soul rising to fill its space.
“Find your own way.” She offered us. And that’s useful. I can do that.
It was Amit Sharma who created a magical space safe enough that my autistic brain overcame its terror of othodoxy for a few sparkling moments to form and ask (too?) many questions of myself. I’m yet to answer many I won’t share publically, as well as these I will
- Does disability inform my work?
- How far do I prevent disability influencing my work?
- When and how do I opt out?
- What parts of me are worth sacrificing to make theatre? Is theatre worthy of those sacrifices?
- Who do I make theatre for? Why do I want to talk to them?
- What stories do I want to tell and why?
- WHY? ANY. OF. IT?
No. I’m not being facetious.
These are actually quite difficult questions to answer – even posing them hurts and requires some monumental unpacking of bullshit.
(Unpacking best done in private not through blogging.)
Being part of this is pretty damn awesome!
I look forward to continuing to develop my practice & connect with other disabled practitioners who have a shared language borne from similar experiences.
And I would encourage other disabled theatre makers to apply for the next scheme!
(Did I say IT IS PRETTY DAMN AWESOME!)
You will obviously leave with other questions and other fighting/holding dance moves cos not everyone is process obsessed like me. You will more likely start different and end different. Someone said, “you need to seperate yourself as an artist from the art.” This is not something my brain is likely to manage this lifetime (I’ve tried.) I approach things differently – and both views are of value. That’s what’s on offer – the integration of divergent opinions in one room. It’s invigorating!
And we need more disabled people reflected and repped in every sphere or theatre, front, back, centre and sides, up high, down low. We need you, so please come forward.
Be part of the unpacking.
Since first published I have been messaged to ask why i have so many spelling errors.
1. I’m dyslexic
2. I’ve just had my nails done so typing on my phone is wild.
3. Get a life.
5. I have since eddited in moo spellin errz so ukk ou
Another reader messaged asking me to clarify what I mean regarding: “you need to seperate yourself as an artist from the art…I approach things differently” blah blah from above.
I feel art is process. Art and artist tango symbiotically. Compartmentalization is possible, sure, but where symbiosis fertilizes, compartmentalization sterilizes. And I’m after being a big fat fertile bitch-cow.
Obviously we are all free to hold contrary ways & opinions. And mine are subject to change.
PS: it doesn’t really matter anyway. Just make art.