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Colin Hambrook

Colin is editor of Disability Arts Online. He has worked as a manager/ editor/ researcher/ sub-editor for a variety of web and print based disability arts and mainstream publications since 1994. He first established DAO Ltd in 2004 and has striven towards a vision for the journal as a place, which publishes professional arts writing, arts media and discussion, giving a voice to arts practitioners who identify with disability as a creative, artistic and political force.

Posts by Colin Hambrook

Digital image of trees reflected symmetrically

Artist Mark Ware makes waves bringing Art and Science together with groundbreaking results

Mark Ware recently gave a presentation ‘The Wavelength Project: Art-Science investigations into how we respond to the natural environment’ at the University of Sussex covering the development of his work over the last 13 years. Colin Hambrook reported back on the development of a project, which is offering a greater ...

Screwing a light bulb into the Sky'

Creativity is the power to change: Dolly Sen’s DSM 69

Dolly Sen launched her ‘subversive look at psychiatry’, DSM 69, published by Eleusinian Press at the Dragon Cafe in Borough − a Mental Fight Club event presented as part of a week of Antiuniversity Now festival (10-16 June). Colin Hambrook was there to review the book. I have been to the Dragon ...

Super Aspie

Meet the Guerilla ‘Aspie’, Paul Wady

Guerilla Aspies, written by Paul Wady, was published in 2014 as an irreverent jibe at neurotypical society. In 2016, it was adapted into a production which went to Edinburgh Fringe entitled Guerrilla Aspies: The Show of the Book. Colin Hambrook talks to him about his work, autistic pride and future ...

DAO pays tribute to one of our most cherished writers: Sophie Partridge

We are still reeling from the heartbreaking news that DAO journalist and blogger Sophie Partridge has gone from us. Our plan is to publish responses from the disability arts sector on this page to pay tribute to one of our key writers, artists and activists who sadly died unexpectedly on ...

Georgie Morrell

Georgie Morrell: A Poke in the Eye

Georgie Morrell is a stand-up comedian, writer and blogger. She recently bore her soul with her stand-up show A Poke in the Eye, which played at the Brighton Fringe 24-26 May 2017. Review by Colin Hambrook. A Poke In The Eye is part of a trend amongst younger disabled performers staging ...

Chris Campion

Extant: Catching the Ghost

Britain's leading professional performing arts company of visually impaired people has a track record of producing intelligent, ground-breaking and award-winning work. Extant Theatre took Catching the Ghost − a new play by emerging actor-musician Chris Campion to the Brighton Fringe Festival. Review by Colin Hambrook. The blurb for Catching the Ghost read ...

Nadeem Islam

Nadeem Islam on playing a misfit for Deafinitely Theatre’s Something Else

Something Else, Deafinitely Theatre’s stage adaptation of Kathryn Cave’s children’s story of the same name plays Derby, London, Bristol and Oxford 28 May – 2 June. It tells the story of a small creature who lives his life always trying to fit in. But he never does, because he's Something ...

Photo of the Euan's Guide team posing in front of the camera

Euan’s Guide named a digital pioneer in the Digital Leaders 100 List

Founded in 2013, Euan’s Guide, created by powerchair user Euan MacDonald, is a website where disabled people, their families and friends can review, share and discover accessible places to visit. The website has been shortlisted for ‘Digital Charity of the Year’ at the Digital Leaders 100 awards, to be held ...

A production shot from Hijinx's Meet Fred. A cloth puppet is being held by four puppeteers (Dan McGowan, Morgan Thomas Craig Quat and Martin Vick). A cloud is held above the puppet's head.

Fred gets up to some hijinks at the Brighton Fringe Festival…

We’ve got a small feast of performance from a range of disability performing arts companies in the Brighton Fringe Festival this year. In a recent interview on DAO Sarah Perryman, Head of Participant Services said that the Fringe were making inroads towards upping their game in terms of attracting disability ...

Flyer image shows a male and female actress holding a St George's flag in front of a seaside railing

Teesside based playwright brings show about surviving modern day England to the stage

Playwright and theatre director, Vici Wreford-Sinnott, is returning to ARC on Thursday 18 May with a new politically charged show about two people trying to survive modern day England. Set in 2022, the new play shows a rarely seen portrayal of England, and Vici plans to take her audience on an ...

Playing on Workshop

Theatre that changes hearts, minds and attitudes in a bid for social cohesion

During March 2017, RE:CREATE Psychiatry invited Playing On Theatre Company as guest curators to produce Shifting Perspectives Through Theatre, a series of workshops and performances. During one busy activity-filled day at The Dragon Café, Colin Hambrook talked to CEO and Co-Artistic Director Jim Pope about the company’s methodology. The Dragon Café, ...

A grainy black and white image of a dark figure, perhaps a ghost

Brighton Fringe Festival’s agenda for access and inclusion

Brighton Fringe is one of England’s largest arts festival, setting out to stimulate, educate and entertain through a diverse range of art forms. Sarah Perryman, Head of Participant Services spoke to DAO about the festivals’ ambition to become more inclusive of disabled performers and audiences. Brighton Fringe is open-access, which means ...

a new, less intimidating instruction to remind people they are being watched by cctv, reads 'smile on, system opera by'

Mental health and the medical model: reclaiming the languages of lunacy

On 24 and 25 April as part of a residency at The Art House in Wakefield, writer and performance artist gobscure invited applications from artists with lived experience of mental distress to join him for an 'unreliable narrator' tour as part of his 'reclaiming the languages of lunacy' residency. Colin ...

Le Gateu Chocolat: Black

Le Gateau Chocolat: Black

Featuring a repertoire ranging from Wagner and Purcell to Nina Simone and Whitney Houston, Black is an intimate and confessional portrait of Nigerian singer Le Gateau Chocolat’s life. It played Theatre Royal Stratford East 4-8 April 2017. Review by Colin Hambrook. Inspired to make Black following death by suicide of two ...

photo of four actors set to play the messiah

The Bristol Old Vic present a staged performance of Handel’s Messiah in Bristol Proms

For four nights this April, four extraordinary actors will join renowned opera and concert conductor Harry Bicket, Europe’s most celebrated Baroque orchestra The English Concert, the glorious Erebus Ensemble and four giants of classical music Julia Doyle, Catherine Wyn-Rogers, Joshua Ellicott and Brindley Sherratt for four one-off stagings of Handel’s masterpiece, Messiah. Renowned ...

Photos of members of the cast

Ramps on the Moon returns with a controversial new production of The Who’s ‘Tommy’

Tommy is part of Ramps On The Moon, a ground-breaking project which signals a change in the UK’s disability arts provision, and Peter Straker will be joined on stage by an inclusive cast of Deaf and disabled and non-disabled actors including Lukus Alexander, Alim Jayda, Donna Mullings, Garry Robson, Max ...

Awkward Bastards challenging the absence of diversity from the cultural landscape

DASH's Awkwards Bastards symposium returns for another year, in collaboration with Live Art Development Agency (LADA) and mac Birmingham, taking place at the mac on 22-23 March. I caught the morning session of the first day via livestream. With introductions from Caro Parker and Mike Layward, DASH began their day with ...

The cast of To Belong

Belgian company Theater Stap bring ‘To Belong’ to SICK! Festival

On 20 March, 2017, as part of SICK! Festival, the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts in University of Sussex, hosted Theater Stap from Belgium on a whistle-stop European tour with their production To Belong. Review by Colin Hambrook. Theater Stap have a track record of training professional disabled dancers/actors to ...

Yolanda Mercy performs On the Edge of Me.

Emerging theatre-maker Yolanda Mercy seeks to educate and entertain

Following a showcase of excerpts from On the Edge of Me and Quarter Life Crisis at the iF Platform as part of the recent Vaults Festival in Waterloo, London, Colin Hambrook interviewed Yolanda Mercy about her career and aspirations. Yolanda Mercy has positive commitment to making socially engaged performance work. She ...

Publicity image of an arm reaching out of a large speckled, red bag

Hijinx Unity Festival migrates North this summer

Hijinx's annual five-day international Unity Festival will take place for the first time in Caernarfon, North Wales, from 28 June - 2 July 2017. Spectacular circus, theatre, dance and music acts will fill Caernarfon Castle, Victoria Dock, the Town Square and Galeri Arts Centre for this year’s Hijinx Unity Festival, ...

Sculpture consisting of a series of bright yellow and red walking frames arranged on a blue plinth to resemble a merry-go-round

Shape Arts make a welcome move into the world of audio-description at Tate Exchange

How do you ‘see’ art? How do we describe art to others? As part of the Tate Exchange programme at Tate Modern, Shape organised 4 days of events from 23-26 February, with a showcase of artwork from the Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary Shortlist, a series of workshops led by blind ...

David Toole stars as Dave in The Enormous Room

Stopgap Dance Company’s The Enormous Room: a new genre for dance?

Directed and choreographed by Lucy Bennett, The Enormous Room carries Stopgap’s hallmark qualities of an absurdist, narrative-driven dance genre we first saw come to maturity in the company’s 2014/15 touring production Artificial Things, a step further. Colin Hambrook caught the premier at the University of Surrey in Guildford. As the audience ...

Digital image of red flowers and green foliage with the title 'The Garden of Remember' overlaid

Launch of new digital app made for and by people living with dementia

A new digital artwork has been created by people living with dementia, school children and young people. The APP, entitled Garden of Remember will be become part of the permanent collection of NetPark, the world's first digital art park, situated in Chalkwell Park, Essex. Artists, Elsa James, Joe Magee, Alistair Gentry ...

Vici Wreford-Sinnott

Vici Wreford-Sinnott on the development of Butterfly

Vici Wreford-Sinnott is a theatre director with a passion for making powerful contemporary work that challenges and entertains in equal measure. She has written and directed Butterfly, which is currently touring the UK, accompanied by a series of ‘Reclaiming the Butterfly’ workshops, looking at the impact of mental health ’stigma’ ...

Black and white photo of the musician posing in an industrial setting

Plymouth PhD Researcher Awarded Composer Residency With British Paraorchestra

Amble Skuse, who is a PhD candidate at Plymouth University, has been selected for a prestigious composition residency with The British Paraorchestra. The British Paraorchestra is the world’s first, large-scale professional ensemble for disabled musicians. Just as the Paralympics have achieved so effectively in sport, the British Paraorchestra has shifted perceptions ...

Andy Kee as Russell

Creative Journeys: As the arts develop, so do the people

Creative Journeys is an open and inclusive project for people who share an interest in art. Produced by social inclusion organisation Certitude and working with Artist Andy Kee the group have opened up journeys through gallery spaces in London over the last two years. DAO talked to Andy about his ...

Three performers move forwards from in front of a stage curtain with tentative expressions on their faces.

Stopgap Dance Company and VAULT Festival announce iF @ VAULT

Four of the most talented, emerging disabled artists and integrated companies are bringing exciting work to the festival to raise the profile of disability arts in the UK. Following the success of the iF Platform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2015 and the iF Platform bursary in association with The Point ...

A picture of a man stood up talking into a microphone. Four people are sat on green chairs in the background, two of them are holding hands and looking at each other.

Mind the Gap take critically renowned show CONTAINED to Roubaix, France

Mind the Gap, England’s largest learning disability theatre company is heading to Roubaix, France from Tuesday 24th to Thursday 26th January 2017 for their Crossing the Line Festival. Three days of performances, workshops, screenings, discussions and networking opportunities from three leading European, learning-disability theatre companies: Mind the Gap (Bradford, UK), ...

A woman with an angry expression holds a wand, dagger-like, to a heart rendered in the shape of a spell

Door Ajar Theatre reinterpret Shakespeare’s characters using sign language

The newly-formed Door Ajar Theatre are touring nationally with Thisbe - a BSL-integrated production of a story derived from a sub-plot within Shakespeare's popular comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Producer Euan Borland talked to Colin Hambrook about the company and its decision to play with principles of creative access. Door Ajar ...

Stopgap’s new touring work ‘The Enormous Room’ reflects on the surreal aspects of loss

Stopgap Dance Company’s new touring production The Enormous Room, premieres at Sadler’s Wells Lilian Baylis Studio on 2 and 3 March 2017. Featuring renowned disabled dancer David Toole in a central role, The Enormous Room focuses on the complex but poignant relationship between a father and daughter during a time of ...

A production shot from Hijinx's Meet Fred. A cloth puppet is being held by four puppeteers (Dan McGowan, Morgan Thomas Craig Quat and Martin Vick). A cloud is held above the puppet's head.

Where will you ‘Meet Fred’? Hijinx’s Edinburgh hit comedy sets off on a UK and European tour

Following a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2016, Hijinx (Cardiff) in association with Blind Summit (London) are launching Meet Fred on a 50+ date tour around the UK next Fri 20 January at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff. Following the UK tour, Meet Fred will be touring Germany, ...

Front cover of Wendy Young's The Dream of Somewhere Else

Wendy Young: The Dream of Somewhere Else

Published by Survivors' Poetry as an ebook available on Kindle Wendy Young’s The Dream of Somewhere Else is an autobiographical account of one woman’s journey to rise above the impact of a childhood of neglect and abuse.  Review by Colin Hambrook. Written with a raw honesty, Wendy’s collection charts her troubled ...

Jenny Sealey and Kathryn Hunter redefine Lorca’s final masterpiece with the Royal Exchange Theatre

A bold exploration of female identity, sexuality and power: Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba is beautifully transformed for the Royal Exchange’s distinctive in-the-round theatre in a co-production with the trail-blazing Graeae Theatre Company. The House of Bernarda Alba is directed by Graeae’s Artistic Director Jenny Sealey, in a translation by ...

A photograph of Liz Carr on stage at the Royal Festival hall. She is using a golden wheelchair with confetti all around her.

2016 Round up: a year of ensuring disability arts is known about more widely

When you look at DAO you’re only seeing a half of the work we’re doing to support the disability arts sector. 2016 has been an incredibly productive and busy time for us at DAO. The year began in the thick of our Viewfinder series of workshops hosted by Goldsmiths University. ...

Photo of Jackie Hagan wearing a bookcase dress

Power Through Diversity

Arts Council England recently launched its diversity data report Equality, Diversity and the Creative Case 2015/16 at their Power Through Diversity event at Contact Manchester on 12 December. Colin Hambrook reflects on highlights from the live stream. The day was live-streamed through the Arts Council’s website and footage of the artists ...

The Kindness of Strangers

Tim Jeeves, The Kindness of Strangers

The Kindness of Strangers is an immersive theatre piece ruminating on the generosity of others, contextualised by Tim Jeeves’ personal experience of being diagnosed with cancer and subsequent bone-marrow transplant at a young age. It played the Bluecoat on 1 December as part of DaDaFest International 2016. Review by Colin ...

DaDaFest Congress Thomson Hall drawing

DaDaFest Congress 2016: to go with the flow of the mainstream or swim against the tide?

DaDaFest 2016 hosted a two-day Congress at the Museum of Liverpool 1-2 December. Designed as a set of provocations to explore the impact of disability and d/Deaf arts within the context of growing media exposure and responsiveness to the work within the mainstream, 40 years on. Colin Hambrook reflects on ...

Joey Hateley diRTy

DaDaFest 2016: diRTy by Joey Hateley, The Gender Joker

diRTy is a surreal semi-autobiographical performance piece devised by trans artist Joey Hateley, exploring the conflicting personas within one mind and societal attitudes towards gender, with integrated sign language from Siobhan Rocks. It played at Bluecoat on 30 November as part of DaDaFest International 2016. Review by Colin Hambrook. This year’s ...

Deafinitely Theatre appointed Bush Theatre Associate Artist

The Bush Theatre announced today that Deafinitely Theatre will become one of their new Associate Artists. This is part of the launch of a new talent development strategy designed to revolutionise the diversity and quality of artists and artistic leadership in the UK. From 2017, a new cohort of artists will ...

Photo of a large shape covered by brown cloth next to a tree

Auto Agents supports learning disabled artists to take a curatorial lead at The Bluecoat, Liverpool

Bluecoat, Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts have launched Auto Agents - an art exhibition curated by the AaA collective, a group of five artists with learning disabilities: Hannah Bellass, Tony Carroll, Diana Disley, Leah Jones and Eddie Rauer. Led by PhD candidate Jade French, the exhibition forms part of the ...

Oil painting of a sunflower

Vince Laws paints ‘Debbie the Sunflower’ for Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC)

Artist Vince Laws has been making a series of 100 named Sunflower paintings. While working on the project he heard the sad news that Debbie Jolly, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts (DCAP) has died. Debbie’s family and friends have asked that donations be made to DPAC in Debbie’s memory, ...

Photo of actor Nicky Priest wearing a t-shirt

Nicky Priest cuts against the grain to take on the RSC in a new play about Caravaggio

Nicky Priest has begun to make a name for himself principally within stand-up comedy.  He recently landed the part of Danny in the RSC’s forthcoming production of The Seven Acts of Mercy. Colin Hambrook talked to the young actor about the role. “I first heard the Royal Shakespeare Company were looking ...

Monument to the Unintended Performer by Tony Heaton

DASH – The Incorrigibles

The Incorrigibles is a new book produced by DASH which features artwork by, and interviews with, 14 prominent disabled artists, plus essays by way of introduction. The Incorrigibles emerged out of conversations that took place after DASH’s Awkward Bastards conference at the mac in Birmingham in March 2015. Review by ...

Unlimited Commission Opportunities… don’t miss out!

Unlimited is a commissions programme, delivered by ShapeArts and Artsadmin, funded by Arts Council England with additional funding from Arts Council Wales, British Council and Spirit of 2012. In the run-up to the closure of the first Expression of Interest stage of the application process for Unlimited 2017, three previous ...

Photograph of Madlove - Designer Asylum project a woman is looking at the blue diorama with pink model buildings

Bedlam, chaos and the fight to make Psychiatry truthful…

Bedlam: The Asylum and Beyond at Wellcome Collection in London contains an assortment of historical documentation, artwork, ideas and presentations/ interventions. In giving a flavor of the history of mental hospitals, the attitudes and the treatment of people both within the asylums of old and within contemporary mental health service ...

Photograph of Gisele Calazans stretched out across the back of Marc Brew's wheelchair as they hold hands in MayBe

Unlimited: Marc Brew Company: MayBe

In an international co-creation between Natalia Mallo, Gisele Calazans (Brazil) and Glasgow-based Marc Brew, MayBe took place at Tramway's Unlimited Festival in Glasgow on 17-18 September. Review by Colin Hambrook. MayBe is a dance piece crossing boundaries, internationally and artistically using digital screen and lighting interventions choreographed to live music. Marc Brew ...

Gary Gardiner and Ian Johnston in 43 Percent, one of them stands in a dinghy while the other sprays him with water

Unlimited: Ian Johnston and Gary Gardiner: 43 Percent

43 Percent is a dynamic new multi-media work, created by 21st Century Challenges and performed by Gary Gardiner and Ian Johnston, which explores the medical and social definitions of being human. It played at Tramway’s Unlimited Festival 15-16 September 2016. Review by Colin Hambrook. Ian Johnston and Gary Gardiner shared some ...

A photograph of Aairon Williamson standing on a platform surrounded by absurdist furniture. He is joined by a BSL interpreter

Unlimited: Aaron Williamson: Demonstrating the World

Aaron Williamson’s Unlimited-funded (administered by Shape and Artsadmin) Demonstrating the World is a performance art piece that utilises bespoke ‘absurdist furniture’ and was unleashed on the unsuspecting public on London’s Southbank 10 September and Glasgow city centre 16-17 September. Review by Colin Hambrook. Having followed Aaron Williamson’s live art performance since ...

Photograph of a performance of NCA Small Theatre's Hiraeth, a woman lies on a reflective stage, five more performers stand behind her, their heads cocked to one side.

Unlimited: NCA Small Theatre: Hiraeth

A collaboration between the UK’s Candoco Dance Company and Armenia’s first integrated theatre company, NCA Small Theatre, Hiraeth tells a story of migration, statelessness and a longing for home. It played at Tramway as part of the Unlimited Festival 15-16 September 2016. Review by Joe Turnbull. Hiraeth is a Welsh word ...

Black and white headshot of the actor Tim Barlow, in profile

Sheila Hill on her Unlimited commission, HIM

Drawing on recorded conversations between Tim Barlow and Sheila Hill, made over a period of a 20-year friendship, HIM crosses the boundary between theatre and visual art. Colin Hambrook interviews writer/theatre-maker and installation-artist Sheila Hill to find out what motivated the collaboration. My relationship with Tim began 20 years ago when ...

Photograph of Liz Carr performing assisted suicide the musical, a woman in a nurses outfit leans in towards her.

Unlimited: Assisted Suicide the Musical

A Butlin’s redcoat aesthetic, a buddy-song with the Pope and a serious challenging of preconceptions about assisted suicide all rolled into one, Colin Hambrook reviews this ‘TED talk with show tunes,’ which played Southbank Centre 10-11 September and will be at Tramway Glasgow 17-18 September. Since Southbank Centre announced the headliner ...

Dancersm Joel Brown and Laura Patay lay on the ground facing each other, Joel's wheelchair is on its side

Unlimited Festival at Southbank Centre – a round up

Unlimited 2016 has given DAO more of a focus on looking to pitch pieces we write and commission to be published on other platforms, rather than, or as well as on DAO. Our intention is to get word of the Unlimited programme out to as wide a mainstream audience as ...

Photo taken of the panelists during a discussion at Unlimited

Unlimited: Are some more equal than others?

As part of the programme of talks at Unlimited Festival at Southbank Centre, on 10 September Tony Heaton chaired a discussion panel including Claire Cunningham, Rachel Gadsden, Ivan Riches and Nicola Miles-Wildin. Together they tackled the thorny question ‘are some more equal than others’ in the context of the disability ...

Black and white photograph of actor Tim Barlow performing Him

Unlimited: Sheila Hill’s HIM

HIM is a collaborative work, lying somewhere between theatre and visual art. Colin Hambrook reviews this Unlimited commission (administered by Shape and Artsadmin) in which actor Tim Barlow reflects on life aged 80 - a time of looking back at key moments through childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age as if ...

Photograph of a woman dancing both her hands held aloft in a gesture

Heart n Soul rock the Southbank Centre (literally) with their Beautiful Octopus Club

It has a been a busy Unlimited buzzing with excitement and packed with some excellent art, some good art, wide-ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime and back again. Baluji Shrivastrav summed it up: “This is Unlimited and anything goes!” Friday evening felt like a different festival - a different universe away ...

Claire Cunningham and Jess Curtis face each other, Claire is off the ground on her crutches and has his hands on her shoulders

Unlimited: The Way You Look (At Me) Tonight

Described as a dance, a song, a story, a sculpture, a play, a fight and a journey, The Way You Look (At Me) Tonight by Claire Cunningham and Jess Curtis was an Unlimited commission (delivered by Shape and Artsadmin) and featured at the Southbank Centre on 6- 7 September. Review ...

Photograph of Jess Thom sitting on a chair on a roof terrace

Unlimited: Jess Thom: Sit Down, Stand Up, Roll Over

Billed as a work in progress from a comedian whose unique neurology makes it impossible for her to stay on script, Jess Thom gave her first solo stand-up comedy gig at the Southbank Centre on 6 September as part of Unlimited Festival. Jess Thom has become a bit of an overnight ...

Photo of a male and a female dancer on stage in front of screens showing projections of water

Chisato Minamimura: Passages of Time

In her new work Passage of Time Deaf concept artist and choreographer Chisato Minamimura takes a brand new score and digital artwork that draws upon classical and abstract instrumentation and the construction of music. Showcased for Brighton Digital Festival 2016, Colin Hambrook reviews a hypnotic new dance work that looks ...

photo of Brazilian rapper Billy Saga wearing sun-glasses

Unlimited supports Brazilian rapper Billy Saga’s first UK Tour to London, Bristol and Newcastle

Drake Music, in partnership with Unlimited (delivered by Shape and Artsadmin), are producing the UK tour, as part of their aim to embed work by disabled artists within the cultural sector, reach new audiences and shift perceptions of disabled people. Billy Saga is one of the most authentic and combative MCs ...

Photo of the band for Mind the Gap against a green background

Liberty 2016 gives space for disabled performers

Showcasing the nation’s finest talent in Deaf and disability arts, the Mayor of London’s Liberty Festival offers a day of free live music and entertainment in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Colin Hambrook went along to soak up the vibes and experience the downpour and reported back on a few ...

photo of a performance artist with plastic around his head

Illness and Disability in Radical Performance Practices

In the run up to DAO’s launch of the Viewfinder video platform we had a lively roundtable discussion event last Wednesday in the Pacitti Company’s premises and home of the SPILL Live Art Festival in Ipswich. SPILL Festival has been showcasing radical performance practice since 2007. It stands to reason that ...

photo of a group of young performers on stage. The face of a woman is projected onto a screen behind the performers

DaDaFest Receives Major Funding from Big Lottery Fund for New Artist Development Project

DaDaFest is delighted to announce that the organisation have received a grant of more than £275,000 from Big Lottery Fund to be used for a new project called “DaDaFest Rookies”. The project aims to increase employability within the creative sector for young disabled people through training, mentoring and placements within arts ...

The new look Disability Arts Online site displayed on a computer screen and smartphone.

Disability Arts Online (DAO) announces award of Elevate Funding

Disability Arts Online (DAO) is pleased to announce that we have been awarded £150,000 over three years through the Arts Council’s Elevate programme, designed to strengthen the resilience of art organisations which are not receiving National Portfolio funding in the period 2015–18, but which demonstrate that they make a significant ...

The Balladeer poses in front of a banner reading THREE Opera

Jamie Beddard on disability, politics and his latest role at the National Theatre

For someone who professes to have fallen into arts by accident, Jamie Beddard has had a productive career as an actor. He is currently working with The National Theatre, playing Matthias – one of Mack the Knife’s notorious henchmen in a lavish production of The Threepenny Opera. Colin Hambrook asks ...

poseter image of an aerial performance showing a trapeze artist and an acrobat against a muted green background

Join in a celebration of Bristol culture for everybody!

A new event is happening in Bristol this September and the city’s residents are being encouraged to not just come and watch, but to get involved. This September the city will host Doing Things Differently, an event celebrating equality and participation for every body, hosted by Bristol City Council and ...

Jamie Beddard hams it up as Mack the Knife's henchman Mathias in the National Theatre's production of The Threepenny Opera

It’s time for Disability Arts to finally break the mainstream

Arts organisations and funding bodies have struggled for more than two decades to find ways of presenting work by artists who don’t enter the academic career routes into the arts. Colin Hambrook examines the campaigns from tick-box to creative case and concludes there are no easy answers. I love disability arts ...

photo of the artist and the musician standing on either side of the portrait on an easel

Stories to be told in nationwide portrait events by award winning disabled artist, Tanya Raabe-Webber

A unique project celebrating the diversity of our common humanity through a series of live portrait sittings with high profile sitters in well-known venues, will take place this summer and autumn across the country. Portraits Untold will see acclaimed award winning disabled artist, Tanya Raabe-Webber undertake live portrait sittings that fuse ...

photo of two dancers against a brick wall background

Full programme announced for Southbank Centre’s third Unlimited Festival

The full programme for Unlimited Festival 2016 from Tuesday 6 – Sunday 11 September 2016 is unveiled, showcasing the originality and artistic vision of disabled artists for a third year. The first of two world premieres in the Royal Festival Hall is Assisted Suicide: The Musical, created by disabled activist, ...

Photo of two artists seen from behind, placing sculptural objects on green matting

Venture Arts launch OutsiderXchanges

In collaboration with Castlefield Gallery, BALTIC and the Contemporary Visual Arts Network (CVAN), Venture Arts has launched its pioneering collaborative visual art project OutsiderXchanges - to coincide with Chorlton Arts Festival. The project brings together learning disabled and non-learning disabled artists to develop shared ideas and new contemporary work in a unique ...

Jamie Beddard hams it up as Mack the Knife's henchman Mathias in the National Theatre's production of The Threepenny Opera

The National Theatre present The Threepenny Opera

Exciting, dark, political and funny, The National Theatre’s latest production of Brecht’s Three’penny classic sports a diverse cast of actors including the earthy, comic presence of Jamie Beddard, long-loved veteran of the disability arts movement. Review by Colin Hambrook The Threepenny Opera is one of those pieces of theatre that will ...

photo of dancers

Brighton Festival: Akram Khan Company present Until the Lions

One of the most respected figures in the dance world, Akram Khan returns to Brighton Festival joined by two of his company dancers alongside four musicians providing haunting vocals and soundscape for his new, full-length production Until the Lions. Review by Colin Hambrook. Akram Khan’s genius in fusing the Indian classical ...

Brighton Festival: The Ricochet Project present ‘Smoke and Mirrors’

Ricochet Project weave acrobatic exploitations and high-flying distortions to examine the contorted state of America in the pursuit of happiness in their contemporary circus collaboration ’s Smoke and Mirrors. Review by Colin Hambrook The listing for this show promised a piece that related to mental health issues: “revealing the inner workings of ...

Photo of Simon McBurney lit in shadow and surrounded by blue lights

Brighton Festival: Complicite present The Encounter

Inspired by the book Amazon Beaming by Petru Popescu, Complicite’s The Encounter brings the limits of human consciousness into startling focus in an ambitious national and international co-production. Review by Colin Hambrook. The Encounter is an incredibly ambitious, multi-layered piece of storytelling that challenges our linear understanding of time.  A theatre for ...

Promotional photograph for Silent Faces' show Follow Suit featuring the performers in oversized suits throwing paper aeroplanes.

iF Platform bursary winners Silent Faces come out of the filing cabinet with Follow Suit

Silent Faces are an emerging integrated company and their physical theatre show Follow Suit has been awarded the iF Bursary at this year’s Brighton Fringe. Review by Colin Hambrook. Follow Suit as the finale piece creating a perfectly formed ending to the day of discussion and showcase at the iF Platform ...

Emma Stephenson

Emma Stephenson is a London based artist/illustrator working mainly on reportage projects and themes. Her latest project is about her perspective on the world from her wheelchair. I wanted to use the images as an informative tool. Even though I am a wheelchair user I am not defined by the chair. My work ...

Flyer for Daisyfest 2016 featuring an orchestra of young musicians

Hurrah for Daisyfest 2016 in Guildford!

I’m delighted and excited that Daisyfest 2016 has given DisabilityArtsOnline a slot at G Live in Guildford to showcase some of the talent DAO supports through our blogging platform. So, we’re producing an event next month called Words That Defy Normality - a smorgasbord of humorous, reflective, autobiographical poetry and performance from ...

Colourful red and green painting by Mawuena Kattah featuring a stark green background with dozens of red and blue 'eyes'

Intoart announces public fundraising exhibition with over 100 artworks by learning-disabled and autistic artists

Art collective, Intoart, presents its first public fundraising exhibition with over 100 artworks by artists with learning disabilities and autism from the 21-25 June 2016. Intoart present their pop-up exhibition in Fitzrovia, central London, to fundraise for their ongoing studio programme that provides much-needed access to art education and exhibition ...

Thompson Hall painting featuring dark colours, it depicts the view from a window out onto a cityscape, with creeping creatures around the windows.

Thompson Hall: ‘Home Away from Home’

Thompson Hall was commissioned by Outside In and HOUSE to produce a new solo exhibition, Home Away from Home for the HOUSE Festival in Brighton. The exhibition runs from 30 April – 29 May at the Regency Town House. Review by Colin Hambrook. Within the various Creative Minds events that have ...

Sue MacLaine and Nadia Nadarajah stars of Can I Start Again Please? with very long dresses that sprawl out onto the floor. They both have their hands on their heads.

Access at Brighton Festival

Year on year Brighton Festival are making progress with small but important steps in improving the festival’s access offer and are gradually diversifying their audiences. Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival’s Theatre Producer Orla Flanagan talks to DAO about some of the festival’s outcomes, spurred, in part by engagement with Unlimited. 2015 ...

Photo of the four commissioned artists, pictured in a museum archive

Exceptional & Extraordinary: Unruly Bodies and Minds in the Medical Museum

Unique film, dance, performance and comedy commissions draw on museum collections to explore our problematic attitudes towards difference.   Since humans first appeared on earth no two have ever been the same. Yet somewhere along the way, certain bodies and minds came to be highly valued whilst others became viewed as problematic: ...

Jez Colborne pictured on stage in front of a series of video projections of himself

Mind the Gap: ‘Contained’

Combining live performance, film, photography, music and dance, Contained explores those small moments in life that suddenly become charged and life changing. As the cast from 'Mind the Gap' present themselves to their audience the show displays clear political intent, says Colin Hambrook.  Contained tells everyday stories of ordinary folk. With a ...

the sick lab logo contains the name in white inside a green circle with a test tube SICK! Lab logo

SICK! Lab 2016: A collaborative exploration of identity and trauma

Dedicated to using the performing arts to explore, broadly, the difficult stuff of life, SICK! Lab took place at the Contact Theatre, Manchester from 9th-12th March 2016, showcasing performance, discussion and presentations on the tricky themes of identity and trauma. Colin Hambrook gives an overview, taking the temperature of the ...

Garry Robson as JJ Peachum, King of the Beggars, leads a chorus of policemen in Graeae's touring production of The Threepenny Opera. The policemen pose with their truncheons held high against a stark stage set

Disability: a creative advantage?

Chaired by critic Lyn Gardner, Dao’s editor Colin Hambrook attended a debate at the Arena Theatre, which was part of a series of conversations hosted by the Guardian. A Nation’s Theatre is a joint initiative, from the newspaper and the Battersea Arts Centre highlighting a showcase of innovative theatre made ...

Shape Open 2016

This year Shape present their fourth Open Exhibition with what promises to be the largest attendance yet, undoubtedly helped by the fact it is held in Yinka Shonibare’s Guest Projects studio, just off the thriving gallery scene of Vyner Street in Hackney. Review by Colin Hambrook. The competition, open to disabled ...

Marie-Louise Plum's painting Backyard Wrestling shows two purple-coloured figures grappling. Acrylic on canvas.

Mental Spaghetti: ‘The Mind Machine’

Mental Spaghetti is an Outsider Art organisation whose name fits the aesthetic of their exhibition The Mind Machine, which took place at the Menier Gallery, London from the 18th – 23rd January. Review by Colin Hambrook. Curated loosely around themes of portraiture – portraits of the self, portraits of the imagination, ...

A photograph from Ridiculusmus' production, Give Me Your Love. It depicts a man with a box covering the upper part of his body in a stark room, as a hand creeps around the door.

Ridiculusmus: ‘Give Me Your Love’

Ridiculusmus take the ridiculous to extremes in their latest piece Give Me Your Love. Following the story of a soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder back from the Iraq War, the play asks how does society support those who’ve been pushed to the darkest corners of existence. Review by Colin Hambrook. As ...

A photograph of Liz Carr as Clarissa Mullery in the BBC's Silent Witness. The image is a close up on her face with a crime scene in the background.

Who draws the line on what is or isn’t a useful life?

The journalist Matthew Parris has a bit of a thing about ‘usefulness’ as an important human trait. When interviewed by disability activist and wheelchair user Baroness Jane Campbell on BBC Radio 4’s first Today programme of 2016, he branded her as “a clearly useful person” because of her place in ...

photo of Jessica Thom in blue superhero costume on a ride in a funfair

2015: The year impairment issues returned to the fore / 17 December 2015

In thinking about my round-up of the highlights of 2015 there are several events that stand out and a changing climate, culturally and politically, which are having an impact on the evolving beast that is disability arts. Last March, and for the third year running, SICK! Festival presented its increasingly influential ...

black and white graphic of psychiatrist R.D. Laing's head divided in two

On the uses of art and polemic in theatre.. Howard Barker and Patrick Marmion battling it out in the same theatre… / 4 December 2015

I went to the Arcola Theatre in Dalston the other night and was dazzled by an unexpected encounter with Howard Barker - considered one of the major writers of modern European theatre. I found myself in the 'wrong' studio as Barker began holding court about the state of Theatre in ...

black and white photo of the face of actor Tim Barlow, taken side-on

Embracing the taboos of ageing and death with Sheila Hill / 2 December 2015

Sheila Hill’s Him was a favourite in the Unlimited showcase at Summerhall in Edinburgh earlier this year. Aside from the quality of the work as a piece of art, the content seemed relevant to me, personally, partly because the panoply of impairment issues I deal with on a daily basis are ...

a picture of a park bench with a series of pie charts assessing how the bench feels about itself

Notes from SICK! Festival… / 17 November 2015

I was invited to be part of the SICK! Festival Thematic Advisory group and recently attended a meeting at The Manchester Museum with a large group of academics, theatre producers/ makers and representatives of Arts and Health organisations. The purpose of the thematic Advisory Group was to help shape the focus ...

Shape Gallery: ‘Ilham’ Exhibition

Ilham (inspiration) was originally exhibited at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar, as part of the Definitely Able conference that explored issues of disability and equal access to arts and culture in the Middle East. A sample of work by the four UK-based artists from that show is on ...

Early plans of exhibition case using a mix of text and imagery

One Sided?

Since my last blog, I have been thinking about the importance of depicting multiple viewpoints relating to genetic screening in the final piece of work.  In particular, the choice of materials will be integral to the way the concept is explored.  I have been considering a range of options but ...

Oska Bright Film Festival 2015 – Day One

Colin Hambrook reports on Day One of the Oska Bright Film Festival 2015 at the Corn Exchange, Brighton I’ve been going to Oska Bright Festival since it started. It’s a place to catch up with some of the best quality short film from the UK and around the world. As the only ...

A photograph of Jess Thom as Touretteshero in a superhero costume on a carnival ride.

Jess Thom on taking Biscuit Land to the small screen

In partnership with Battersea Arts Centre (BAC) and Arts Council England, BBC Four’s Live From Television Centre will feature a half hour slot from Jess Thom aka Touretteshero. Colin Hambrook caught up with the performer during rehearsals in the BBC studio at Wood Lane. Jess Thom’s career as a comedienne is ...

An easy-read version of DAO’s Creative Minds 2015 Conference reviews

DAO has specially commissioned an easy-read version of Bella Todd and Colin Hambrook's reviews of the Creative Minds 2015 Conference to make them more accessible for learning-disabled people. The document puts the most important points from Bella and Colin's articles side by side. Click here to download the easy-read version of ...

photo of an actor dressed as an elephant standing next to an actor dressed as Hitler

The Creative Minds conference key question: what makes for ‘quality’ in theatre? / 29 October 2015

Coming back from the Creative Minds conference in Ipswich I was mulling over the day's discussion about 'quality' and remembered how six years ago I had the privilege of sitting in on a theatre-devising workshop with Australian theatre company Back to Back. It was very different from anything I’d experienced ...

A photograph of artist and actor Chloe Phillips with another actor in Taking Flight Theatre's production of As You Like It. The other actor has her arm around Chloe's neck

Chloe Phillips explores Audio-Description as a creative tool

Chloe Phillips is an Associate Artist with Taking Flight Theatre, based in Cardiff. Earlier this year she received an Unlimited R&D award to work with the company to produce The Importance of Being Described…Earnestly? - a pilot for a production experimenting with new ideas about audio description. She talks to ...

a cartoon character holds up a glass of wine in a restaurant

Creative Minds one day conference 2015: discussions on the theme of ‘quality’

Creative Minds is an invitation to the learning-disability arts sector to have a conversation about how we define ‘quality’. Colin Hambrook reviews some of the presentations at the conference: how do we know something is quality? And when we do decide what 'quality' is, how do we then talk about ...

An image of the torso of a Rowan James sporting a variety of labels such as 'average', 'awkward', 'dribbler', 'overcome'. He wears a stethoscope attached to his chest

It’s Easy For You To Say: Rowan James and the emergence of ‘impairment-laden’ work by disabled artists / 19 October 2015

I recently caught an ITV news item celebrating the “ordinary heroes of Britain.” An eight-year-old disabled child was put on the spot for being ‘inspirational’ for completing a triathlon. It was notable because the lad was much too sharp to be fooled by media patronising bollocks: “I don’t even know ...

photo of performer and writer Jackie Hagan sitting in a bathroom

Creative Future host readings from their anthology of impossible things / 29 September 2015

Last night the Free Word Centre in Holborn played host to writers from the Creative Future Literary Award ceremony reading poetry and prose pieces on the theme of ‘impossible things’. With support from Lemn Sissay and Maggie Gee and prizes of cash and mentoring from the Literary Consultancy the room ...

Photo of Film/ TV Director Bim Ajadi wearing a puffa jacket and green baseball cap

Film/TV Director Bim Ajadi on his career so far

Award-winning filmmaker Bim Ajadi’s credits include co-directing a film for Channel 4 shown at the London Paralympic Ceremony in 2012. With a media career spanning almost 15 years, Colin Hambrook asked Ajadi about his professional journey so far and his ongoing commitment to nurturing fellow Deaf talent, as he prepares ...

The Live Art Development Agency launch a book and DVD of Katherine Araniello’s ‘The Dinner Party Revisited’ / 17 September 2015

There are only a few days left to view Katherine Araniello’s The Dinner Party Revisited on the Live Art Development Agencies LADA Screens platform. The audio-described version of The Dinner Party Revisited is a good example of using creative description to add another layer within a work of art  - ...

still image of dancer Chisato Minamimura set against the digital backdrop of visual images created through movement

Short Circuit: Digital Arts Project at the Lighthouse

Short Circuit was an action research intensive funded by Arts Council, South East that has been breathing life into a number of digital projects using disabled artistry for the last two years. Review by Colin Hambrook. Focusing on two of the original Short Circuit artists: Chisato Minamimura and Jon Adams, the ...

Edinburgh Festival: Ramesh Meyyappan’s ‘Butterfly’

Ramesh Meyyappan’s Butterfly is inspired by a combination of John Luther Long’s short story Madame Butterfly and Nabokov’s novel Lolita, evoking the elegiac quality of both works. Review by Colin Hambrook Combining movement, music and handmade puppets there is a lyricism to this production's effortless flow of dance, mime, handcrafted puppets ...

Edinburgh Festival: Marc Brew’s ‘For Now, I Am..’

An intimate solo created and performed by Marc Brew, For Now, I Am.. has been brought to the Edinburgh Fringe by Stopgap’s iF Platform. Review by Colin Hambrook For Now, I Am.. is one of many pieces of personal storytelling, told through performance, in the festival. Entering the auditorium there was ...

two heads enshrouded in bandages are connected by a red, plastic chord, with a suspended blue hammer

Edinburgh Festival: Unlimited Exhibition… Summerhall

Unlimited’s first exhibition at Summerhall is a series of ambitious mixed media installations by some of the UK’s leading disabled artists. Review by Colin Hambrook There is a meditative theme within the visual arts Unlimited showcase on exhibition at Summerhall. Reflections on life and death, youth and old age run through most, ...

Photo of Jess Thoms with a big smile, wearing a pink jersey

Edinburgh Festival: ‘iF Not Now When?’

Forest Fringe at the Drill Hall played host on 25 August to a day of lively and vibrant discussion: 'iF Not Now When?' produced by Stopgap and hosted by Jo Verrent, Senior Producer of Unlimited. Colin Hambrook reflects on some thoughts from the day's proceedings. Do we need labels? - a ...

photo of a head encompassed by a shroud of white hair

Edinburgh Festival: Jo Bannon presents ‘Alba’

Described as being influenced by the artist's albinism, Jo Bannon's Alba is a performance which tells a story about paleness, blending in and standing out. Review by Colin Hambrook. As the audience settles, becoming accustomed to being in a room of near darkness, we become aware of what appears to be a ...

A photograph of Jess Thom and co-performer Jess Mabel Jones. The former has a superhero costume on, the latter has her hands under her chin and is smiling.

British Council Showcase at Edinburgh Festival: Neil Webb

The British Council Theatre and Dance team are currently busy working on their tenth showcase since 1997 at the Edinburgh Festival. Colin Hambrook spoke to Neil Webb Director of Theatre and Dance about the outcomes British Council are hoping for as a result of the showcase and the broader spectrum ...

photo of artists Katherine Araniello and Simon Raven dressed in black costumes with a stall of 'golden pickles' pictured in front of the Damien Hirst 'Charity' sculpture near the Gherkin

Katherine Araniello and Simon Raven do ‘The Golden Gherkin’ / 29 July 2015

Unveiled in the same week that the UK government scrapped the Independent Living Fund (ILF), a debate about the artistic merit of Damien Hirst’s 'Charity' (2003 - 2004) ignited on Dao’s FB group. A 22-foot painted bronze likeness of a Spastics Society (Scope) charity collection box from the 1960's-1970’s depicting a ...

photo of disabled performer Jamie Bedard flying through the air on a wire, dressed in a white suit

Liberty Festival 2015 / 27 July 2015

I arrived at the Liberty Festival in the Queen Elizabeth Park in Stratford with that M.E. glow, swollen glands and throbbing head in a howling freezing wind and lashing rain, thinking “what am I doing here?” By the early evening I left with that Liberty love thing that keeps me ...

The Adventures of Super-Crip cartoon with an image of a blind super hero wearing a red costume and large black visors leading a family along a railway line. The caption reads: “BLIND Super Crip guide train crash passengers to safety… with his super enhanced hearing”

Sadcrip/ supercrip: two sides of the same coin / 21 July 2015

Logging on to Dao’s FB group can be a reminder that we are living in a regressive period where Disability Politics is concerned. It can often feel as though the Social Model understanding of our lives as disabled people has taken several steps backwards. The Dao FB group has grown to ...

The City of London laughs in the face of the plight of disabled people with the erection of a new/ old Damien Hirst monument / 7 July 2015

A statue by artist Damien Hirst which according to the Evening Standard “aims to challenge our prejudices around disability” was recently installed next to St. Helen’s Church and opposite the Gherkin in London’s Square Mile. The seven-metre high sculpture, called Charity (2003), is a replica of a 1960s Spastic's Society charity ...

blurred image of the face of a young woman with a toy robot in the foreground

Richard Butchins talks about his Unlimited R&D piece: ‘213 Things About Me’

Award-winning documentary maker and disabled writer Richard Butchins’ first video work 213 Things About Me is due to be exhibited in Edinburgh as part of an Unlimited showcase by leading disabled artists at Summerhall. Colin Hambrook talked to him about the making of the work. 213 Things About Me was an Unlimited ...

A politician sits up in a single bed peering over the top of the sheets with a frightened expression on his face. At the foot of the bed is a copy of the Daily Mirror with ‘average of 32 deaths per week due to benefit cuts following work capability assessment’. The politician’s face is also being lit up by the glow from a ghostly figure floating at the bottom of the bed. The ghost is saying “Daddy – why are you killing my disabled brothers and sisters?!”

On the eve of the closure of the Independent Living Fund, Disabled People fight back / 25 June 2015

It was great to see the news of the protests against the disbandment of the Independent Living Fund… I've always had a huge amount of respect and admiration for John Kelly and it was great to see him on the news singing 'Which Side Are You On My Boys'. Much warmth, ...

painting of the actor / activist Nabil Shaban

NDACA are pleased to announce the success of their Round 2 bid to Heritage Lottery Fund.

With the total funding of nearly £1M, including support from Arts Council England and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, NDACA are now commencing the project: this is their 3 year Delivery Phase in which they collect 1000+ deposits, create the NDACA Wing at Buckinghamshire New University, create the NDACA repository at ...

picture of Penny Pepper wearing a red spotted dress, sitting reading in a garden

Penny Pepper on working with The Literary Consultancy

The Literary Consultancy, (TLC) founded in 1996 by its Director Rebecca Swift and Hannah Griffiths, offers a service in assessing writers’ manuscripts to give advice on how to approach publishers and agents. Colin Hambrook interviews Penny Pepper about her experience with TLC in time for their ‘Quality Writing for All’ ...

dao logo, consisting of a square within a green circle with the letters 'Dao'

Dao 2015 Reader Survey / 9 June 2015

We are looking for responses to our 2015 Reader Survey to get Your valuable feedback is absolutely vital for future development of the organisations and to help us to secure funding for future projects. This year we are doing something a bit different. The questionnaire is completely anonymous because we want ...

Rowan James’ ‘Easy For You To Say’ / 9 June 2015

We are pleased to be supporting Rowan James’ bid to raise £1500 to complete his debut Edinburgh Fringe run this year as part of the iF (Integrated Fringe) Platform.  Rowan and his team are seeking support to pay for their accommodation and food during their stay, plus production and technical support ...

flyer for People of the Eye showing silhouette of two young girls against a stormy sky

The Deaf & Hearing Ensemble present ‘People of the Eye’

The Deaf & Hearing Ensemble formed in 2013 as a group of D/deaf and hearing theatre makers who come together to tell each other stories, to explore the performative nature and beauty of sign language and to pull together D/deaf and hearing audiences in a shared experience – breaking down ...

Defend disabled people’s right to independent living / 3 June 2015

The Government's plans to do away with the Independent Living Fund (ILF) on 30th June are going to have an immense impact on many individuals Dao works with either directly or indirectly. The ILF helps over 18,000 disabled people with high support needs to live independent lives in the community rather ...

dancer claire cunningham depicted with her back to the camera, facing a corner of a dark room

Claire Cunningham on ‘Give Me A Reason To Live’

Choreographer and performer Claire Cunningham talks to Colin Hambrook about her new solo performance ‘Give Me A Reason To Live’. Exploring religious art, and the questions it raises about impaired bodies and quality of life, the work takes the form of a series of tests of body and of faith. ...

The two performers are looking at the camera. Jess Mabel Jones is wearing a black top and smiling. Jess Thom is dressed as a superhero with a blue cape and blue headdress. She is grimacing.

Touretteshero goes ‘Backstage to Biscuitland’

On election night in the Brighton Dome Studio Theatre we learn that “Nigel Farage is at home washing his tortoise.” And Jess Thom aka Touretteshero is on fire, an irrepressible force of nature, welcoming her audience to Biscuitland with a charm and an affectionate grin that cannot fail to woo. ...

Daily Life Ltd: Expert View Symposium… let them eat cake

Led by Dr. Bobby Baker and the team at Daily Life Ltd, The Expert View Symposium promised to be an entertaining, inspiring and fun day of discussion, debate and performance, relevant to anyone with an interest in understanding the relationship between the Arts and Mental Health. Colin Hambrook was there, ...

A screen grab taken from the promotional trailer for upcoming film 'The R-Word'. It depicts a cartoon woman interviewing a professor in front of a whiteboard that has the word 'Retarded' written on it.

Amanda Lukoff: The R-Word

Film-maker Amanda Lukoff is a triplet, one of three girls. Their older sister Gabrielle was born with Down’s Syndrome. It was the experience of people’s reaction to her sister that made her want to advocate for Gabrielle. Here she shows a trailer for a documentary she is currently fundraising for: ...

Q.S. Lam: ‘Schizophrenics Can Be Good Mothers Too’

Published by Muswell Hill Press, Schizophrenics Can Be Good Mothers Too takes the reader on the artist Q.S. Lam's journey through the labyrinthine passages of psychosis describing her strategies and struggles to recover from the impact of the illness on everyday life, drawing on her personal experience, using art, not ...

Exploring the fabric of life

At a time when the ethics of genetic screening is at the forefront of public consciousness I feel compelled to explore the role in which I, as a disabled artist, could engage with and inform this discussion from an alternative perspective. I believe the arts are fundamental in elucidating our understanding ...

Shape: Shortlist 7 Exhibition

Shape’s Shortlist 7 exhibition shows work by the 2014 Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary winner Carmen Papalia, currently in residency at the Victoria & Albert Museum, plus the other shortlisted artists: Laila Cassim, Omeima Mudawi-Rowlings and Peter Matthews. Review by Colin Hambrook. Papalia’s participatory projects, notably Long Cane (2012) and Mobility Device ...

A bell sits behind reams of folded paper piled up on the floor between two pairs of feet.

SICK! Festival: Sue MacLaine: ‘Can I Start Again Please?’

Can I Start Again Please? is a play about language and the capacity to comprehend and articulate traumatic experience. The work was commissioned to be part of the Sick! Festival in Brighton and Manchester. Review by Colin Hambrook This year SICK! Festival has pushed the boundaries of reflective, difficult theatre-going to ...

poster image for Kill Me Now with Greg Wise's face pictured in a bath with bubbles emerging from his lips

Assisted Suicide in the Theatre: Kill Me Now!

Park Theatre in Finsbury Park, London have recently had a five week run of Kill Me Now – a black comedy by Canadian playwright Brad Fraser with director Braham Murray; and starring Greg Wise as Jake, a long-suffering father and Oliver Gomm as Joey, a young man living with cerebral palsy. ...

photo of Tanya Raabe-Webber's live drawing of Sean Burn

Awkward Bastards: the fraudulent face of ‘Diversity’

Awkward Bastards took over mac birmingham on 12th March, the day Terry Pratchett died and the day the government announced further cuts to disabled peoples’ Access to Work funding. Colin Hambrook gives further reflection on the Symposium. Presented by a mix of academics, artists and activists representing diversity (disability, ethnicity, sexuality, ...

SICK! Festival: Brian Lobel: ‘Sex, Cancer & Cocktails’

SICK! Festival is currently revealing and debating some of our most urgent physical, mental and social challenges in venues across Brighton and Manchester. Launched in 2013, the festival’s third outing explores some key aspects of life and death and how we survive them (or don’t). Colin Hambrook went to a ...

The Golden Gate Bridge pictured in fog.

SICK! Festival: Eric Steel: ‘The Bridge’

This year SICK! Festival has pushed boundaries by opening up debates and airing work on the theme of suicide. One of pieces shown was a documentary film by Eric Steel, which enters dark spiritual territory focusing on the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, symbol of the West and of freedom and ...

flyer showing half the face of a man wearing dark glasses, with two performers on a black bedstead reflected in the glass

Theatre Re: ‘Blind Man’s Song’ recalls a lost magic

Using theatre, mime, sound and original live music in exploring the power of imagination to seek wisdom beyond our senses, Theatre Re’s Blind Man’s Song opened the London International Mime Festival at Jackson's Lane. Colin Hambrook reviews a VocalEyes audio-described performance on 22nd January. Jackson’s Lane theatre holds cherished memories since ...

still from gary thomas film the dog and the palace of an actress dressed as the queen addressing an actor dressed as her servant

Gary Thomas: on being an artist

Gary Thomas is a Writer, Director and Artist with 11 short films and 4 screenplays to his name. He’s been blogging on Dao on and off since 2010. His film installation ‘The Dog & The Palace’ won an Inspire Mark from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. He talked ...

black and white photo of performer Robin Surgeoner sitting with his guitar on stage with a BSL interpreter behind him

Disability Arts Touring Network: The Why? Festival

Dao looks back at the Why? Festival, which ran from 21st – 28th November at the Forest Arts Centre, Walsall and The Glasshouse, Stourbridge highlighting the successes and learning curves of taking Disability Arts to places it rarely gets seen. Organised by Robin Surgeoner with the support of Black Country Touring ...

purple tinted drawing inspired by a surreal character from the Bosch painting 'The temptation of St Anthony’

Tony Heaton on the next tranche of Unlimited applications

Colin Hambrook talks to Tony Heaton, CEO of Shape who are lead partners with Artsadmin for the Unlimited programme, with a focus on the kinds of work that Unlimited might attract in the second round of applications, with a deadline set for 2 February 2015. Given the success of Unlimited in ...

DaDaFest International 2014: ‘Ship of Fools’

Colin Hambrook responds to Ship of Fools, the Vacuum Cleaner’s self-initiated anti-Section action, residency and mental creative space documented as a video diary on show in Art of the Lived Experiment at the core of DaDaFest 2014 The Vacuum Cleaner carved the words 'barking mad' into a tree in Boardway Market, ...

a blurred photograph of poet Maggie Sawkins

Maggie Sawkins: ‘Zones of Avoidance’

Multimedia live literature production Zones of Avoidance was written and performed by poet Maggie Sawkins and directed by Mark C. Hewitt with film sequences from Abigail Norris. Colin Hambrook reviews a performance at the All Saints Centre, Lewes on 29 October Winner of the 2014 Ted Hughes Award for New Work ...

photo of three members of the band Spaceships are Cool playing live wearing orange jumpsuits

Attitude is Everything: the rise of access for disabled music lovers and musicians

In 2000 Suzanne Bull MBE set up Attitude is Everything (AiE) to challenge the UK music industry to improve access for Deaf and disabled customers. Fourteen years on the organisation has had a lot of success in persuading venues and festivals that there are advantages to be found in raising ...

photo of Ian Johnston centre-stage, dressed in a suit, holding his arms around his shoulders, with Gary Gardiner in the background, also dressed in a black suit with a bow tie

Unlimited 2014: Ian Johnston: Dancer

Created with the late Adrian Howells, 'Dancer' is a gentle provocation on what it is to be a 'dancer'. Producer Lucy Gaizely answered a few of Dao’s questions about what promises to be a fun and thought-provoking show in the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre on Saturday 6 September. Ian Johnston ...

Night view of Corabastos, Bogotá showing market traders with large bags of vegetables over their shoulder

Unlimited 2014: The Flickering Darkness (Revisited) by Juan delGado

Spanish artist Juan delGado and creator of The Flickering Darkness (Revisited) met the film’s editor Juan Soto in a dimly lit room at the Geffrye Museum in East London. A conversation about how the artistic processes were led by their intentions in the making of the film, was transcribed and ...

Dis Art Festival

A woman with no visible impairment - we are perhaps to assume she does not have any disability - is frowning and waving a hand at a sign which reads 'Normality training: How to stop upsetting people by looking disabled.' A woman carrying a crutch and a man wearing dark glasses and carrying a white cane respond to the frowning woman by saying: 'Be normal - but what makes you think we'd want to lower our standards.'

Further towards an Affirmative Model of Disability

DAO editor, Colin Hambrook, interviews Colin Cameron to discover how Cameron’s work is defining and redefining models of disability You are currently writing up your thesis at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. How did the PhD research looking at an Affirmative Model of disability come about? In 2000, an article by John Swain ...