Crips without Constraints

A Play, A Podcast, A Picture

Over eleven weeks during lockdown, we have continued to celebrate the incredible talent, creativity and resilience of Deaf and disabled artists, with this exciting new digital programme in three main strands:

A Play – Mondays 
Shortly after the government announced a complete lockdown, we commissioned eleven Deaf and disabled writers to create one monologue each written in isolation. Some took on the current crisis, others eschewed the pandemic in favour of something completely different.

Each short monologue will be read by a Deaf or disabled actor from home, and will be captioned and audio described.

A collaboration between Graeae’s new writing department and Graeae Patron and acclaimed playwright Jack Thorne.

Supported by Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

Please refer to age guidance and trigger warnings for each play shown below.

A Podcast 
We’ll be releasing BSL interpreted versions of our ‘Disability And…’ Podcast series with Disability Arts Online. The original audio podcasts and accompanying transcripts can also be accessed here.

Our BSL Podcasts will only be available for 1 week each.

A Picture 
To celebrate the careers of Deaf and disabled artists we’ve worked with over the last four decades, we’ll be re-releasing a picture from our archive, including work from the Graeae and Central Illustration Agency 2016 exhibition Reframing the Myth.

This programme has now finished but you can view all monologues and images below. 

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Week 11:

A Play – available to watch from Monday 29 June at 12 midday.

Butterflies
Written and performed by Raji Gopalakrishnan
Voice over by Chandu Gopalakrishnan
Directed by Jenny Sealey. Introduced by Jack Thorne

Audio described and captioned.

Podcast:

A BSL interpreted version of the Disability and Race Podcast, interpreted by Jacqui Beckford and Ali Gordon:

 

 


Week 10:

A Play:

Gobstopper by Khush Chahal
Performed by Hermon Berhane
Directed by Jenny Sealey. Introduced by Jack Thorne

Audio described and captioned.

Podcast:

Due to technical difficulties, we don’t have a BSL Podcast available this week unfortunately. The next BSL interpreted Podcast, which will be the Disability and Race interview, will be available on Wednesday 1 July.

Picture:

Theatre maker and director Daryl Beeton by Tim Marrs

Text is shown below the image with insights from both Daryl and Tim, giving insight into the creation of the image. You can listen to more by clicking here, which also includes an audio description of the image.

This piece is reminiscent of a carnival poster. The artist has used bright colours, yellows, reds and blues. At the top centre of the poster, the silhouette of a figure leaning out acrobatically from a sway pole. Beneath that white text which says, live your life filled with joy and wonder. Below this an image of a man, Daryl Beeton, faded in places, wearing a moustache and beard. He looks out knowingly at the viewer.

“I am a theatre maker, director and have a love for theatre. I have always said being a disabled actor I was always going to challenge people’s perceptions simply by just walking on stage so I might as well have some fun with that. For me, Graeae means hope and opportunity; Graeae is not just the first foot on the ladder but many rungs of the ladder. Graeae are like an unselfish gardener that plants seeds, nurtures and watches them grow. Without Graeae I would have not experienced some of my best memories, some of my best work and met some of the best people or laughed as hard as I ever have done.”Daryl Beeton

“I was impressed by Daryl’s circus and performance work showing his agility, elegance and strength. The sway pole as he flew through the air gave him immense power. I based the work on the circus of old… the American carnie and freak-show posters. I wanted to turn this message on its head, making it a more positive 21st Century message. Daryl creates a beauty in what he does.” Tim Marrs

 


Week 9:

A Play:

we will we will rock you
Written and performed by gobscure
Directed by Nickie Miles-Wildin. Introduced by Jack Thorne

Audio described and captioned.

Trigger warnings:
– Contains strong language
– References to violence and suicide

A Podcast: 

Our BSL podcasts are only available for 1 week each.

To listen to our Podcast series, or read the transcripts, click here.

A Picture:

Performer Tiiu Mortley by Kerry Hyndman,

Text is shown below the image with insights from both Tiiu and Kerry, giving insight into the creation of the image. You can listen to more by clicking here, which also includes an audio description of the image.

A central figure on a dark background, illuminated by a spotlight. The figure, Tiiu Mortley, hangs from white silks, in a graceful aerial pose, an expression of focus and determination on her face. In the background, several smaller spotlights illuminate the darkness.

 

‘I’m a freelance performer working in theatre, dance and aerial performance. I first became aware of Graeae in 2009 when I moved to London. I continued to follow their work and in 2012, I had the chance to perform with them for the Paralympic Opening Ceremony. Prior to this I had been working in arts management, but my passion was to perform; the Paralympics gave me the platform to finally achieve this. I have since worked with Graeae on many different projects and continue to be inspired by their work.’  Tiiu Mortley

‘I tried to capture Tiiu’s determination throughout her life by showing her looking focussed and strong in an aerial pose. The spotlights I’ve used represent her motivation to perform. The main central light is used to highlight her love of aerial performance and the spotlights around her three other passions which are singing, dancing and acting.’  Kerry Hyndman 


Week 8:

A Play:

Green Fingers by Daisy Higman
Performed by Philippa Cole
Directed by Jenny Sealey. Introduced by Jack Thorne

Audio described and captioned.

Trigger warnings:
– Contains strong language.

A Podcast: Disability and…Curation part 2; Contested Spaces panellists

Our BSL podcasts are only available for 1 week each. Click here to access the original audio podcast and transcript.

Picture:

Former Chair of the Graeae Board, Dawn Langley by Jackie Parsons

Text is shown below the image with insights from both Dawn and Jackie, giving insight into the creation of the image. You can listen to more by clicking here, which also includes an audio description of the image.

The artist has divided the page into squares and rectangles to create this collage piece. It is made up of black and white photos, paper and paint. The colours used are pink, orange and cream. The photos are of a motorbike, flowers, books, a telephone dial and a cat. The artist has also used fragments of Braille symbols. White type in small black circles, spells out the word change across the middle of the piece.

“I am the current Chair of the Graeae Board of Trustees. Being part of the Graeae story for the last 6 years has been a massive pleasure and extraordinary privilege. My own creativity is expressed through photography. I actually specialise in food photography, but have really enjoyed being able to take my camera along to some of the Graeae events and productions. One of my favourite photos has to be the moment when I caught a small girl being held up by her father to gingerly touch the huge fingers of the Iron Man – for me it shows a lot of what Graeae is about…” Dawn Langley 2016 

“I wanted to create a collage of different fragments – images, photographs, type, paint, layered pieces of paper to get a sense of Dawn’s life as well as nature and theatre. It’s quite vibrant – oranges, pinks and cream – the photographs are very abstract and I used fragments of Braille symbols.” Jackie Parsons 2016

 

 


Week 7:

A Play:

Parasite by Kathryn Golding 金葉
Performed by Matt Lim
Directed by Jenny Sealey. Introduced by Jack Thorne

Audio described and captioned.

Content/trigger warnings:
– Strong language
– Sexual references
– References to racism and violence.

Podcast – Disability and Politics

Our BSL Podcasts are only available for 1 week each.

Click here to access the original audio podcast and transcript.

Picture:

John Kelly by Simon Spilsbury

Text is shown below the image with insights from both John and Simon, giving insight into the creation of the image. You can listen to more by clicking here, which also includes an audio description of the image.

A black and grey lined drawing of an upturned microphone on a stage. Above this dangles an empty wheelchair, hanging by a microphone cord which has been tied loose-like around one of the wheelchair handles.

“I’m a vocalist and performer and I’ve been working with Graeae for about seven years now. I started off as lead vocalist for Reasons to be Cheerful and I still do that to this day. I also worked with Graeae on The Threepenny Opera where I was the narrator.

I’ve also done a lot of workshops with Graeae and was the Co-artistic director with the brilliant Rollettes. I was also in the Paralympics Opening Ceremony singing Spasticus Autisticus with the Reasons bunch.

We explored our music interest, in particular the lyrics of Ian Dury. The song that resonated while talking was What a Waste because in a sense that’s what’s going on, cutting away the Independent Living Fund and Access to Work is just wasting this potential that’s just untapped.” John Kelly

“I interpreted the ILFs withdrawal of funding as literally taking away a lifeline. I wanted the image to have a pretty no messing impact, giving the impression that all has been snatched away – overall it’s pretty dark and desolate.” Simon Spilsbury 


Week 6:

A Play:

When Everything’s Normal Will You Forget?
Written and performed by Ink Asher Hemp
Directed by Nickie Miles-Wildin. Introduced by Jack Thorne

Audio described and captioned.

Content/trigger warnings:
– Mild language
– Reference to the DWP

A Podcast – Disability and Psychiatry

Our BSL Podcasts are only available for 1 week each.

Click here to access the original audio podcast and transcript.

A Picture:

Playwright Nicola Werenowska by Kai and Sunny

Text is shown below the image with insights from both Stephen and Martin, giving insight into the creation of the image. You can listen to more by clicking here, which also includes an audio description of the image.

On a dark grey background, thousands of silver/grey leaf like shapes convene in the centre of the page to form a loose globe like shape. The impression given is one of movement similar to a swarming school of fish.

“I am a playwright and I am profoundly dyspraxic. The relationship between my playwriting and my dyspraxia is interconnected. It was only when my dyspraxia was diagnosed at the age of 29 that I had the confidence to begin my playwriting journey – a journey which has been exciting, liberating, and of which Graeae has been an integral part. I was lucky enough to be selected for Graeae’s Write to Play writer attachment scheme in 2014 – this was an amazing opportunity… which gave me a courage to be open about my hidden disability. Graeae is about openness, truth and courage.” Nicola Werenowska

“This sentence from Nicola’s profile stood out and was the starting point for our image: ‘The allure of the power of words, the desire to create, to step out into your own world into another.’  We like the idea that the image has a powerful force to it. The globe like shape can grow and become stronger. However, it also has a fragile feeling and can disperse; the overall shape is suggestive of another world or a different place.” Kai and Sunny


Week 5:

A Play:

A Journey And A Half by Shahid Iqbal Khan
Performed by Taharah Azam
Directed by Jenny Sealey. Introduced by Jack Thorne

Audio described and captioned.

Content/trigger warnings:
– Mild language
– Reference to a hate crime/attack

If you can’t view this video then click here to take you to our Youtube channel.

Podcast – Disability and Comedy

Our BSL Podcasts are only available for 1 week each.

Click here to access the original audio podcast and transcript.

Picture:

Actor Stephen Collins by Martin Haake.

Text is shown below the image with insights from both Stephen and Martin, giving insight into the creation of the image. You can listen to more by clicking here, which also includes an audio description of the image.

A collage style image of Stephen standing on a stage, wearing white theatrical face make up. He's surrounded by objects that represent aspects of his life and work. A Blockheads symbol, hearing aids, some socks. Above his head the words, Stephen Collins. Theatre wings are decorated with repeating patterns. Along the bottom centre of the page the text, Graeae Theatre Company.

“I’m an actor and Deaf artist, and I do a lot of theatre work and sometimes short films. Also I do a lot of workshops for young people. I incorporate a lot of signing and speaking in my roles. I have been working with Graeae for about 5 years now…Graeae has been uplifting for me – a fantastic opportunity…I’ve found a new identity [since those early days] and I really have been made more proud of who I am.” Stephen Collins

“I am an illustrator working in Germany. It was very  nice to work with Stephen on this piece, which is based on a classical theatre poster, but with a modern approach to it. He sent me so many great photos of his socks and his impressive work on stage and so I tried to include all these elements in the form of a collage within this illustration. I put him in the centre so he is the hero of the piece.” Martin Haake


Week 4:

A Play:

Cooped Up by Adam Fenton
Performed by Jack Hunter
Directed by Nickie Miles-Wildin. Introduced by Jack Thorne

Audio described and captioned.

Content/trigger warnings:
– Mild language
– Pigeons
– Conspiracy theories

If you can’t view this video then click here to take you to our Youtube channel.

A Podcast – Disability and Representation

Our BSL Podcasts are only available for 1 week each.

Click here to access the original audio podcast and transcript.

A Picture:

Performer David Ellington, by Anna Higgie.

Text is shown below the image with insights from both David and Anna, giving insight into the creation of the image. You can listen to more by clicking here, which also includes an audio description of the image.

On a blue background, several figures in pink costume balance in various acrobatic poses atop sway poles. Large black signing hands, larger than the acrobatic figures come from the edges of the page. Around the figures and hands, some text in rainbow colours which reads. My eyes and hands in silent art. Deafness never stops me to flourish what I dream for. My black hands in sign language makes me fully proud.

“I am a performer and mostly focus on theatre. I have worked with Graeae since 2003; it has been a long and fruitful collaboration. Graeae are a part of me, they really open doors for me and provide me with lots of opportunities to raise my profile, to perform in front of a wider audience, to develop my skills when there were no such opportunities in the mainstream.” David Ellington

“I created the work incorporating the elegance of sign language. The hands are in motion and much bigger than the figures on the sway poles and that makes it feel quite surreal. I drew everything in white and used a limited pallet in the work, using the words in colours of the rainbow to bring out David’s character.” Anna Higgie

 


Week 3:

A Play:

Specs of Light by Hannah Treadaway
Performed by Terri Donovan
Directed by Nickie Miles-Wildin. Introduced by Jack Thorne

Audio described and captioned.

“This piece is a beautiful meditation on the things we miss, the thoughts we have, the way we’re turned upside down and round and round by isolation. It’s gorgeous and sad, but also hopeful.” Jack Thorne 

If you can’t see the video thumbnail below, click here to watch.

A Podcast – Disability and Aesthetics

Our BSL Podcasts are only available for 1 week each.

Click here to access the original audio podcast and transcript.

A Picture:

Singer, songwriter, teacher and actor Victoria Oruwari, by artist and sculptor Tony Heaton.

Text is shown below the image with insights from both Victoria and Tony, giving insight into the creation of the image. You can listen to more by clicking here, which also includes an audio description of the image.

The background of the piece is a pale yellow sky, above a green landscape, either side of a yellow brick road. At the top of the page in blue letters are painted the words ‘Princess Victoria’. The letters I in Victoria have been replaced with three dimensional brown glass eyes. Protruding from the canvas is a black, Barbie-style doll in a pale blue evening dress and tiara, standing on a hot pink surf board.

‘I’m a versatile classical singer, songwriter, teacher of singing and actor who happens to be blind. I’m perceptive with a great capacity for empathy and I like to treat people the way I would like to be treated. I first heard about Graeae when I left school, my first Graeae experience was my audition for The Threepenny Opera when I was lucky to get the role of ‘Mrs Peachum’, it was a really positive experience.’ Victoria Oruwari

‘Victoria said that when she grew up she wanted to be a princess. The work had to reflect the musical (or music) which is Victoria’s passion. So I turned the super highway into the yellow brick road from The Wizard of Oz musical… protruding from the bottom right is a Princess Tiana doll on a surfboard. I also referenced the opera The Rakes Progress but I changed it using scrabble tiles from Rakes Progress into Blake’s Progress, which is also my nod to Peter Blake’s work’ Tony Heaton


Week 2:

A Play – available to watch from 12 midday on Monday 27 April

When We Got Sick by Jamie Hale
Performed by Simon Startin
Directed by Nickie Miles-Wildin. Introduced by Jack Thorne. 

Suitable for ages 14+Audio described and captioned.

Content/Trigger warnings:
When We Got Sick includes detailed descriptions of death during the AIDS pandemic, which some viewers may find distressing.

If you can’t see the video thumbnail below, click here to watch.

Jamie Hale’s When We Got Sick is a perfectly crafted, lyrical short play drawing parallels between today’s crisis and the AIDS pandemic in the 80s. The play’s quiet outrage will stay with you long after watching.

A Podcast – Disability and Activism

Our BSL Podcasts are only available for 1 week each.

Click here to access the original audio podcasts and transcripts.

A Picture:

Disability Activist and comedian Barbara Lisicki, by Tobatron (Toby Leigh).

Text is shown below with insights from both Barbara and Toby. You can listen to more by clicking here, which also includes an audio description of the image.


‘I perform as a stand-up comedian. The comedy started a long time ago – about 1988 or 1989 – when there was an event called The Workhouse which was run by what was then the London Disability Arts Forum; they were social events with performance as part of it; I used that medium to have a go at doing some stand-up, because I had seen other people doing it and I thought: ‘I can do better than this!’ Barbara Lisicki

‘Barbara is involved in Direct Action – going out on the street protesting. We discussed the things you would take along to these protests. The piece of work I created is using the visual language that would normally be associated with instruction manuals. I have taken all the elements of Barbara with various items she uses and exploded them all out, individual objects floating in space with a dotted line which shows you how all these things fit together.’ Tobatron (Toby Leigh)


Week 1:

A Play

Flesh by Anita Kelly.
Performed by Francesca Mills.
Directed by Nickie Miles-Wildin. Introduced by Jack Thorne. 

Suitable for ages 16+ (contains strong language and themes of an adult nature). Audio described and captioned.

Content/trigger warnings:
-Infrequent strong language
-Repeated strong verbal references to sexual behaviour
-References to raw meat

If you can’t see the video thumbnail below, click here to watch.

In this first monologue, we meet Zoe on webcam, who has logged into her flatmate Kizzie’s YouTube channel. However, Kizzie’s followers are about to get a home workout of a very different sort…

“Blushingly frank, wonderfully personal and daringly dangerous…Anita is a brilliant writer who you’re going to be hearing a lot more of in the future.”  Jack Thorne

A Podcast – Disability and Change

Our BSL Podcasts are only available for 1 week each.

Click here to access the original audio podcast and transcript.

A Picture:

Actor, writer and director Garry Robson, by Jakob Hinrichs, taken from the 2016 Graeae and Central Illustration Agency exhibition Reframing the Myth.

Text is shown below with insights from both Garry and Jakob. You can listen to more by clicking here, which also includes an audio description of the image.

This piece with its mirrored central image is reminiscent of a playing card in it’s composition. It features a flamboyant character, dressed in a lace-up bodice and mask, looking defiantly at the viewer. The figure, and the wheelchair in which he sits, are made-up of geometric shapes, his face is a perfect black circle with a white triangle nose, and an oval cut out around the mouth. The image is bold and striking, using black, white and red on a cream background. One word, from the phrase, The Last Freak Show, is written in each of the four corners of the page.

‘I’m a freelance actor, writer and director, and I’m also the Artistic Director of Birds of Paradise Theatre Company in Glasgow and Fittings Multimedia Arts Liverpool. I’m a wheelchair user and I started off my artistic life as a musician and then moved into theatre. I’ve been involved with Graeae for many years – in fact I was in Jenny Sealey’s first show with the company. Since then I’ve worked as an actor and singer in a few shows including Reasons to be Cheerful and The Threepenny Opera. Graeae was personally a great opportunity to take on some wonderful theatrical roles on major stages in the UK and subsequently internationally, they’ve pushed at the barriers preventing Deaf and disabled performers working in theatre.’ Garry Robson

‘In my artwork I tried to do a portrait of Garry Robson’s character in The Last Freak Show. He’s quite a flamboyant character dressed as a woman, with a beard. I show him very strong and staring into the viewer’s eyes… it’s quite in your face. When you first look at it, it looks back to you and I think that’s something I wanted to show.’ Jakob Hinrichs

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  • Crips without Constraints - A Play, A Podcast, A Picture New Writing

    Crips without Constraints

    Over the next eleven weeks during lockdown, we will continue to celebrate the incredible talent, creativity and resilience of Deaf and disabled artists, with this exciting new digital programme.