As a member of Access All Areas’ Performance Company, it was fantastic to meet and work with a new company, Vital Xposure, because it is really important as a performer to have contacts for possible future projects. Vital Xposure were very welcoming and they really encouraged us to shine.
When I became familiar with James Henry Pullen’s life, I was really moved. The reason for this is because it was so sad that someone with amazing carver skills such as Pullen was living in Earlswood Asylum and was labelled as an idiot by people like Doctor Hunt. However, it was great to learn that Pullen had a friend outside of the Asylum who really appreciated Pullen’s talents.
When I was cast as Pullen in the R&D stage of the process, I felt really honoured because it was great to have the responsibility to portray, demonstrate and celebrate Pullen’s talents and his achievements. To perform and parade outside, fighting for the equal rights of all humans, regardless of their circumstance, was really powerful.
It was good that Emma, myself and Access All Areas were introduced to Eden, Julie McNamara and the rest of the Vital Xposure team and vice versa. The reason for this is because it gave both companies a chance to get to know what each company’s interests are. It was a coincidence that both companies had similar interests including research into the institutionalisation of people with learning disabilities, as well as the mission to support disabled artists to have their own voice and to bring out their talents. This indicates that both companies will do whatever it takes to change society, its perceptions and its prejudices.
It was great to contribute to the Liberty Festival activities. Liberty Festival is amazing as it gives D/deaf and disabled communities the chance to celebrate who they are, share their talents, and reflect on the long journey society has taken – and how far it still has to go.