Georgia teaches Bridget and Rachael AUSLAN/American sign language alphabet.
Yesterday I went to the Meeting Place and I thought I would just put a few reflections on that. They were certainly things circling around my head today.
Yesterday’s discussion on What does it mean to be disabled? was so important to me, and how I entered the room today. Currently having a disability identity crisis, I think I articulated it well yesterday, I don’t identify as being disabled but I have been labeled as disabled. In the social model of disability I am not disabled by my society. In the medical model, yes I have a disability, a doctor diagnosed me and told me my brain did “not work as well as everyone else’s”. Because of the way that I was labeled as disabled, I did identify with being disabled while I was still needing some access requirements and getting help but I don’t think I do now.
FUCK FUCK FUCKEDY FUCK
AD: “hand over your mouth”
i like the use of temperature to describe the room and what we are doing
a performance can be hot or cold and everything in between
on the first day i dropped a large wooden plinth onto the floor and it had the effect of producing a huge arctic blast that pummelled the viewers which on reflection was not the desired effect
as an exclusive gesture it was intended for the deaf members of the group as a visual sound or
a beat that could be felt.
the way i take this is that you can fill the bath with hot water but you need to adjust the temperature with cold water before you ask everybody to get in.
and pondering on things that I do not know and need to ask some people…
As a theatre maker my job is to manipulate the audience, to make them feel different things to take them on a journey. And I use different techniques to make you feel different ways, I use visual images, I use sounds, I use text, I use acting (as in the way we say text).
As someone who is visually impaired do you want to imagine what is visually happening or is it ok to just hear things that will take you on the same journey at the same time?
Day two I felt I relaxed more into the group and the exercises we were given. We were given time and space to think about who we are: a question that is both frightening and exciting to ask.
I created a work with Pony who was so lovely to work with that my cheeks hurt from laughing. We used audio description as part of our performance as we abstractly conversed about who we are by mapping sounds and emotions over our body.
There is no question about the importance of accessibility and the need to have an AUSLAN interpreters or audio description as soon as you have someone who is deaf and vision impaired in the group. Every time I make a new work now I will be asking myself ‘will Sarah or Peter want to come this show/exhibition?’
Jenny Sealey spoke about why she places great importance on us as artists creating and controlling the description of our own physicality.
While the residency focused on Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis, it was this concept of creating and controlling our descriptions that threaded through, and informed all our actions, processes, outcomes.
We took time out to study ourselves, to think, to feel, to articulate. We worked individually and we worked together, exploring various tools of description, drawing portraits of each other, making body maps, writing, devising and performing work.
We listened, we spoke, bounced ideas off each other, improvised. There was no time to polish. No place for self-conscious dithering. We were drawing on a huge range of impressive experience and talent. We were figuring out how to respect each other’s descriptions, carry them, translate and interpret them to ensure we were interconnecting.
It was raw and emotional, vulnerable, powerful. It was human. There is a saying from Botswana which applies to how this wonderful residency has made me feel – Motho ke motho ka batho meaning a person is a person because of people – I am because you are.
Today I also learnt a bit of Auslan.
Theatre, Rehearsal, how to spell my name. Emails. Thank you. Please. Fuck you. Beer. Pub. and Bullshit – which for your information is literally a bull shitting. I love deaf culture.
More importantly I found we were able to communicate, even when I didn’t know auslan we had enough shared vocab and understand and a pen and paper for when we got really stuck.
Reminder to remember.
Something that I should never forget to do when making a show. Articulate how I want to be described, allow other members of the team to articulate how they want to be described. Particularly for the press.
At the start of a workshop or a process ask everyone what their sign name is, and what pronouns they prefer.
I’ve been really excited to be in that place where I’m putting accessibility at the forefront and as part of the creative process rather than an afterthought. As disabled artists we really need to think about how we make work that’s accessible because if we’re not thinking about it there’s no reason for mainstream to consider it.
I’m a ‘learn through doing’ kind of person so doing these workshops has been really beneficial and I’m sure it’s really going to influence the way I make work in the future, which is what I wanted to get out of it.
I’m constantly thinking about everybody’s experience of the artwork I’m making and how can I make that experience more accessible?
I’m also thinking about how different tools for accessibility can change the experience of the work. It’s been really fascinating to experience how audio description could make a work more powerful or less impactful or it can really change how we relate to what we’re seeing.
And it’s been really interesting to work with AUSLAN outside the usual what’s happening on stage and an interpreter thing. It’s been exciting to explore other ways to incorporate sign language into the work.
What is the beauty of you?
I haven’t really had a feeling of beauty in my body for as long as I remember but I’ve always thought of myself in a functional sense but I’ve always asked how can I make this or that and that’s where I derive my pride in myself.
Day three was a celebration. I felt I had grown in confidence and chatted with more of the group. These interactions and conversations over tea break and lunch I hope will continue because they have been just as important to me as the residency itself.
This group of artists, who are incredible in their own right, taught me what it looks like to listen, to help without being patronizing, to have fun, to be proud of who we are. I hope as we go our separate ways we continue this conversation, continue encouraging each other to make brilliant accessible work, continue to be friends.
Today’s interesting question was do we give an audio description of what is literally there or what we want other people to see?
Four white walls
form a space
in which safety is created
and relationships are formed
where experience becomes the language
that speaks to our souls.
These four white walls
exist only to support
and when minds are working
hearts and talents collide
and the art that is created
is far too great
to be contained
in these four white walls
so they crumble under the weight
of our true selves
and bear the brunt
of our thick skin
and these four white walls
are barriers no more
yet safety and passion
still burn within.
– Maddie Little/Sexy sexy sexy
Such angst! Such need! The purest pleas for understanding struck at my heart.
I’m 7 years old, I’m looking out a window, into a yard, staring at trees, I have no idea who I am, parts of me were forgotten, lost, shamed out of me. My body doesn’t feel real, life does not feel real. I forget where I am supposed to be, who I belong to, where everyone has gone. I don’t feel real, I don’t know how I got here.
How do I know it’s real, that I’m not going to just float away?
I’m 25 years old, I stare at the walls of a room, I’m not sure who I am really. I respond to stimulus around me occasionally. Everything around me keeps shifting and changing, I’m waiting for something. I have always been waiting. I don’t know what it’s is, or where it is. I don’t feel attached to my body. I don’t know how to become attached to it. I have been trying this whole time.
I still have a slight disability identity crisis, even with a whole bunch of new friends and knowledge. But what I do know is that I want to be a part of disability culture (I am not sure of the right wording for this but basically I want to help always make things accessible share stories of experiences of disability ect.)
I can not thank the participants enough. For patience, unquestioning acceptance, determination to assist everyone even and make things universally accessible.
Thank you Jenny for bringing us together. For letting us dance, it was something truly special.
Being a part of both PIAF Connect residencies with Claire Cunningham and Jenny Sealey, I feel incredibly blessed.