Graeae Theatre Company has just announced a full eleven-week programme of online activity which will provide audiences with a rich variety of work whilst the country is in lockdown. Crips Without Constraints – A Play, A Podcast, A Picture will, over the next few months, embrace the need to isolate and at the same time celebrate the creativity of Deaf and disabled artists across the nation.
Plays is a collaboration with acclaimed screenwriter, playwright and Graeae patron Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and The Cursed Child – Sonia Freedman, His Dark Materials BBC/HBO, Let The Right One In – National Theatre of Scotland/ Royal Court) alongside Graeae’s New Writing Department. It is supported by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.
Shortly after the UK government announced a complete lockdown in the UK, Graeae commissioned eleven Deaf and disabled writers to create one monologue each written in isolation. Some took on the current crisis directly, others eschewed the pandemic in favour of something completely different. Each work, however, is a bold and brilliant response to the challenge. With writing from Khush Chahal, Adam Fenton, gobscure, Kathryn Golding, Raji Gopalakrishnan, Jamie Hale, Daisy Higman, Ink Asher Hemp, Shahid Iqbal Khan, Anita Kelly, and Hannah Treadaway, the collection represents the finest new diverse talent from across the UK.
Each monologue is read to camera by a Deaf or disabled actor and is introduced by Jack Thorne. The monologues, which will be captioned, and audio described, will be streamed every Monday, kicking off on Monday 20 April with Flesh by Graeae Write to Play graduate Anita Kelly.
Each Wednesday from April 22 the online offering continues with Podcast. These are be BSL interpreted versions of Graeae and Disability Arts Online series, Disability and… podcasts. They were first aired last year to great acclaim. Podcast will commence with TourettesHero Jess Thom’s interview with Nickie Miles-Wildin.
Picture is a series of images to celebrate the careers of Deaf and disabled artists, re-released from Graeae’s archive and including work from the 2016 exhibition Reframing The Myth which was originally commissioned by Graeae and the Central Illustration Agency in May 2016. The first to be released is Garry Robson, by Jakob Hinrichs (above and attached).
Jenny Sealey, Artistic Director of Graeae says:
“We have spent the last few weeks at Graeae collectively thinking about how we can best celebrate the talent, creativity and resilience of the Deaf and disabled artists who make Graeae what it is. Crips without Constraints: A Play, A Podcast, A Picture encapsulates this perfectly, and I’m so thrilled that we’re not only releasing brand new work through the ‘Play’ element, but also reimagining and recelebrating the glorious diversity of our community with the Podcasts and the Pictures. I can’t wait to see what the 10 writers participating come up with, and enormous thanks to our patron the brilliant Jack Thorne, along with Esmee Fairbairn and Arts Council England for supporting this part of the programme.”
Nickie Miles-Wildin, Graeae Associate Director says:
“At a time when Deaf and disabled people are isolating, shielding and being medicalised, our voices are even more important now. I am proud of how quickly our writers have responded with such a range of ideas, the actors have performed with little rehearsal over Zoom and have also self-taped. It is an absolute joy for Graeae’s New Writing team to work closely with Jack Thorne on the shape of this quick response programme.”
Jack Thorne says:
“I have watched disabled people being ignored in my industry for a very long time. Now, at a time of national crisis, they are being ignored in a much more dangerous way. People are being told they are not going to be put on vents if they need them. People are being told the health service needs to cater for others, not them. Disabled people are being left to die in their homes. So listening to them, hearing their stories, feels more important than ever. Graeae are, in my opinion, the national theatre of disabled people and it makes me very proud to be working with them as part of this scheme. These are an amazing group of disabled writers and actors and developing their work for this has been such a delight. There’s all sorts of stories here – catering for all tastes – and including everything from an account of someone wanking to someone caring for their dying partner. I can’t wait for people to consume what they’ve made.”