Last week we talked about story.
If a story is about how the things that happen affect someone in pursuit of a difficult goal, and how that person changes internally as a result…then here we are, five writers setting out into the woods, about to confront the forces of antagonism that dictate who gets to take up space, what disabled people are allowed to be…
The Road of Trials:
Brains and disability don’t go together. My dyslexia diagnosis results didn’t fit on the chart because someone capped it at the 80th percentile. Anyone with an IQ over 114 had to squash into the margins. Which is funny, because the other conversation people like to have about dyslexia is Einstein! DaVinci! Picasso! Spielberg! Which is funny again because you can’t get support when you’re smart and dyslexic (that would give you an unfair advantage), but you can expect all manner of punishments for not living up to your potential…
Throw a certain kind of man into the mix and having brains at all is a provocation. (I was once in a writing workshop where a guy danced around the room whooping and fist-pumping because he knew a word that the rocket scientist didn’t).
Argument Against Transformation: how impossible it is to have needs when the world wants to keep you small.
You don’t get to just take off these messages like a coat.
Even when half the people in the room last week were there to support us, it was hard to ask for help. Hard to say I need that read out to me, hard to opt out of things that made me panic, hard to believe there was space for me in this conversation.
We watched a recording of Still No Idea. We laughed at Cheeky Face. We cried at what Austerity thinks we are worth. And in one magical moment, Lisa and Rachael turned and looked right at us—clouds parted, heavenly choirs sang—disability needs you, Write to Play year six cohort, to author the stories where we are large and contain multitudes.
First thought: yesyesyes! That’s what I want to do.
Second thought: don’t fuck it up!
Third thought: holy cow I couldn’t do this without Graeae.
In his podcast, Malcolm Gladwell explains the point of privilege is that it buys you second chances.
When you have a disability all those chances are blown on getting a diagnosis, fighting for support, battling to be taken seriously. Trying to get a foot in the door while everyone else has already taken their seat at the table.
Return With Elixir:
I’ve had small success with short plays, I made it to the long-list of a few things. The prize always felt out of reach, close but no banana.
Last week it felt real. Write to Play has changed how people look at me and what I’m writing. Real theatres taking us seriously, real theatre-makers handing us the mic, saying you can do this. Take up this space.