In our continuing series of commissions dedicated to disabled artists in isolation, writer and artist Steven Fraser presents a ‘private play’ intended to be enacted in the privacy of your own home.
Private plays are intimate performance encounters where the audience read illustrated performance scripts that are presented in a zine. Zines are self-published booklets that cover a wide variety of topics and tend to be made by marginalised people.
With Stay Together, the idea is that you read the script, follow the instructions and act out your own performance. Private Plays usually occur in strange and atypical settings, where the location acts as a stage or set. Stay Together happens in the home of the reader. The zine is digital and can be read on a mobile device or smartphone.
I created Private Plays as I wanted to present experimental and unusual performances in a format that was comfortable to me, as an autistic and queer person. I decided to create text-based performances that people could read and act out by themselves. I felt that this was more of an autistic considered approach to experimental and intimate performance. Uncomfortable stimuli associated with busy and unwelcoming performance spaces are removed. All that is left is the text and the reader.
In the past I have presented Private Plays in different formats. I have created art installations that work as a set. I would leave objects, puppets, props and items in the installation space that people could interact with. This format of working takes up a lot of space and requires a lot of time, planning and also some funding. It also requires acceptance and interest from venues and festivals who look to programme more experimental and inclusive autistic led work.
I have a DIY approach to my art. I am drawn to self-starters, self-publishers and people who create art with very little time and resources. I am drawn to creating zines, as zine makers produce work outside of traditional publishing. Zines feel more inclusive and exciting to me.
During a time of self-isolation, social distancing, quarantine and COVID-19, I feel that the Private Plays approach to performance has a wider appeal.
This is also a time of activism, inclusion and conversation. With Stay Together, I wanted to create something intimate, personal and something that recognises the need for human connection. I feel that these things are important now more than ever.