Miegunyah Lecture 2019: Julie McNamara (Cripping it Up!)
I'm Allyson Campbell I'm in theater at the VCA it's, a great pleasure of me to introduce this evening. Our. Mugu Nia lecture. For, 2019, and. Our visiting. Magana, distinguished. Visiting fellow Julie, McNamara, all I can't. You can you can. All. I have to do is hand over to tariqa owners who is head of the Willing Centre for. Indigenous arts. And cultural development, and he, will do our acknowledgement, country, and then he will hand over to the Dean very conning him who, will do a more formal introduction. To our speaker, this evening I hope you have a great time. Thank. You Alison. My. Name is t Ricky onus I'm. A yogi, order and jjwong, man, and. I. Hold, the. Great privilege, as so, many of us do here at, the Faculty of Fine Arts and music to. Practice my art. And. Tell. My stories, here, on this, country on this, boon wurrung country, on. This yellow cat willam country. This. Had song and dance. And. Art. And stories, poured into it for. Over two and a half thousand, generations. This. Country, is. A, place that has held the. Stories of those, old people as we say in, Maori. Order language those, gen banner. And. I truly believe that for, those of us. Who. Listen and who feel this, country the voices of. Those. Yen banner come back to. Speak to us all. Because. This is country. That. Doesn't discriminate this is country that, shares its, knowledge 'as and it's stories. Freely. And, welcoming. Lee I think. I was made up a new word. But. It is a country that welcomes all. And. It asks, only. That. We listen. Not. With our ears but with our hearts and with our minds, and. That. We know, when. We tell our stories, when. We dance our dancers when. We sing our songs on this, country we're doing nothing new rather we are engaging in a practice that. Has belonged in, this yellow cat woollen country since the very beginnings, of time. And. That. These stories are here for all of us to celebrate, and. That. This country is here for us to, celebrate our stories. With one another and for. Us to hear. To. Hear. Those. Voices and. The. Knowledge of this place. It's. A great honor to be here with you, tonight. It's a great honor to celebrate the, wonderful contributions, that Mac has made and, continues to. Make. And. I sincerely hope. That. As we share our stories here tonight and as, Mac takes us on what. I know is an extraordinary journey. We're. All conscious of the fact that these stories that we tell that we share have power. And. When we share them when we gift them back. To this country it. Reciprocates. So. Thank you so much everybody. For being here this evening, I. Hope. That. For you like me, it's. An honor and a privilege to share your stories, on this yellow cat will and country and I. Hope that this country calls you back and. That. The stories that you leave, here you. Know will be safe and will be cherished, for. All time just as those. Voices of thousands of generations have been. And. Now. It gives me great pleasure to hand over to, the boss. What. Are the bosses John sorry. The, Dean of the faculty and fine arts and music Barry. Cunningham. Thank. You -, Ricky Thank You Alison, I. Always, have a, great. Privilege, on that and and, I hope. Convey. To you the humility the. The. Privilege, it is to work for this institution and by, that I mean the University of Melbourne which were part of and, we're.
Proud That the tradition of University, continues to evolve and I, think tonight is yet another, evolution. In how, universities, become. More open, more free and, more, willing, to share, with the entire community. The. The values. Of. Something. That has. Lasted for a relatively, short time in terms of our traditional owners but, certainly for a. Thousand. Or plus years universities have been places of, freedom. Of openness. Of. Scepticism. And, above. All of, learning, so. What better, person, for me to have the honor of introducing is. Julia, McNamara who. I I took me a while to figure out who Big Mac was and in fact. When. I met Julie. A. Lovely. Meeting we had a chance to talk, I. Wasn't. Sure of the irony of Big Mac but I think I'm pretty sure now. As. As, many even if most, of you know Julie, McNamara is a leading international artists, and activists, in disability. Arts she's, the artistic. Director of vital, exposure. Funded. By the Arts Council, of England in their national portfolio as one, of the UK's leading, disability. Led2. In theatre companies. Driven. By social. Justice, and I think those of you who haven't met, or heard Julie yet the word driven, is very. Appropriate. Driven, by social justice, she's. Had, a lifelong, preoccupation. With. Disavowed, voices, on the. Political periphery. Her. Particular. Interests. Are in voices, from locked in spaces. Secure. Hospitals, mental health and criminal justice systems and, discourses. Of madness, and representations. Of madness onstage has, been her passion and her contribution. She's. An, award-winning, playwright. Screenwriter. And. Indeed there's, a list of, acknowledgments. Here from around the world about, her. Documentaries. And other screenwriting, Awards. She's. Published. Widely. In poetry, anthologies. And in, nonfiction. Discourses. On disability. And mental health and she. She, has a substantial. Theatre. Production, history both in the UK and on, the international stage including, Australia, Canada Brazil, USA. New. Zealand, and Ireland. And. In fact recent, productions, include voices, from the knitting circle. Lifting. The lid on the closed world, of. UK. Asylums, and secure hospitals. Written. From. Survivor, testimony. And. The, butch monologues, by Laura Bridgman was. Recently, staged here in Melbourne, at Theatre Works so. It, was great pleasure I introduced, Julie, to address. Us tonight in, the Magana lecture, this, is a, very. Important, series that goes throughout the University of Melbourne where. International. Important. Speakers. Are invited, to. Enhance. The. Discussion, and the dialogue that, goes on and certainly at this faculty, where. We hold, dear to what you've just heard from Turkey, to, try and not. Only. Perpetuate. What, the traditional. Owners have been doing for thousands of generations but. Even resuscitate. The. Level, of integration, that. Comes. From. An examination of, indigenous. Culture, and integration. Where. Body bills it feels a part of the. Society in the community, and. That art and life. And. And, all the things in. It. Of. One, and I hope that as we work with our students, and staff and as we have speakers like Julie we, move towards, that aspiration, so great, pleasure to introduce Julie. To speak to us tonight. I'm. Just shaking oh great it's on lovely. Thank. You very very much for having me I just like to say first off I'm a blowin some. Of us live in the land some. Of us came. And took it from you I stand. In solidarity, with. Indigenous. Peoples, from. This land this, land was never seeded, and after. 200 years and more, there's. Still incarceration. There's. Still prejudice. There's. Still so. Much work we all have to do. So. I'm delighted to Ricky that you'd have me here and delighted. Also to hear about the heart connection and the feelings through story because that's the way I live my life if, I, haven't said a load to you yet it's because I can't see you and I only can't see it because I've got a brain injury you need to now look like this but not for long in this light do, you not I mean for. Those of you that were hoping for captioning, tonight you've gotten on it terrifies, the life out of me sometimes. Access. Issues, and access aesthetics. Clash and I, cannot, live with that led stagetext thing, going on the, last time I have that on stage I literally had a seizure now, while I might be funny for you it's, not for me so. No. Captioning, but, I do know we're filming, tonight and we've, got a brilliant addict team who, are gonna put subtitles. Along. The bottom so you'll love that when you get it eventually. For. Those of you who are visually, impaired, let. Me share something with you I. Am. White. Politically. White what. Does that mean where I come from from the lands I come from which. Is still contested, land although, I was born in Liverpool of two Irish people Catholic. And Protestant. They. Didn't marry they ran away to be together I, learned.
From Two rebels, and they were the best you could make Bonnie, and Clyde of the Mersey. So. I'm politically, right but what does that mean I was raised to be politically, aggressive, not necessarily, politically, aware I. Stand. Before you 5, foot 7. 1. Meter 69, or 70 actually. With a little bit of a heel on tonight. Long. Limbs. Torts. In use I'm told a walk through the room like my father, that. Disturbs, me sometimes. I'm. A, butch Dyke, masculine. Of Center a, masculine woman I was born with a vagina you won't get to see that tonight I'm just telling. You. I'm. Wearing. What. Could be called the, clippings, tartan, let's call it a plaid the, clippings, the queer Crips my. Trusted, tribe gathered, in the front row and some of them in the back hiding, from me because they know if I spot them I'll hold them in. For. Those of you who are visually impaired you were part of my trusted, tribe and will touch skin later but. Right now, straight. To the point I, came. Here to talk about. What. Would it feel like to, normalize. To make côte, d --n ordinary, i can't even spell cote de and don't ask me to. Ordinary. The. Idea of non-normative. Bodies, neuro-diverse. Minds, or newly, bodies, and minds, unleashed. Inside. The academy, or in public spaces. Why. Isn't that ordinary, why. Is that still remarkable. Why. Did I have to do two, maybe, three toilet. Tours on campus, to make sure things were accessible, and comfortable, for people as, your. Distinguished. Visiting. Lecturer by. The way I'm no more English than every single human being gathered, in here tonight, thank. You so much for coming because without you I wouldn't, be here I. Go. Back to my very first moment, actually on this. Land I always. Think of it as the, heart of the world the, Red Rock the pulse when. I first was, allowed near the space you call una Roo I hope you now call it in the room I, hope. We're not climbing, up it. Thank. You, Wow. When. I first arrived, in, Melbourne, I met. With a guy I used to busk around Sigma throw festival there's. Somebody else who sings around folk festivals, in here and then. We, were heading our way to port ferry but when I arrived at Melbourne. There. Was Willie, just. Outside the airport and, I, was fed up actually, at that long long flight. So. Came out South Side and there he was I went oh my god Willie. What. Are you doing here. He. Said I've lived here for twelve thousand, generations what. Are you doing here. So. I get it I'm a blowin. This. First slide features. Alison, lapper, one. Of our collaborators and, somebody I've been talking. To about the probably. Me favourite Commission I've done over the last few years around museum, spaces, Alison. Lapper you may have heard her name, a guy. Called Mark Quinn, whose non-disabled. Thank. You that intake of breath is absolutely, right. Created. A fabulous statue, of Alison lapper that, was featured in Trafalgar, Square I'll. Come to that in a bit I loved. Alison, lappers work because it made such an impact on me she's a brilliant artist, and this. Series of slides that she created was, her.
Projections. Around anger, being. A disabled, woman. Part. Of her whole project, called beauty and damage or beauty out of damage. Wonderful. Piece can. We move to the next slide please ah. This. Woman's a national treasure. So, here am i am melbourne all those years ago and i was invited by crusader Hillis to do a piece of work i called, pig tails, some. Of you in this room actually saw it in fact I was talking to Lisa earlier, on you were at the art of difference at Gas Works arts all those years ago. Somebody. Else as well were you there as well I can. Hear you either if I can't see you. And. At. The end of that piece of work in the middle of this event, called making, a difference this. Person, comes up to me a woman. With a learning disability as, we would say in the UK listen every time I use the word disabled, its with a capital D I come. From that identity politics, as a disabled, woman we, fought the fight do you not I mean it's not people with disabilities, as if we are the, core heart of the problem it's. Actually disabled. People, with a capital D P and, you. Know call me an anarchist but we're reclaiming reclaiming. Reclaiming, every, time sorry. That's probably Bo so I'll certainly hands. So. Rachel hi up here featured. On each of these slides you can see is quite a phenomenal, human in each slide she. Is gesturing, telling. Me exactly what. To do she. Came up to me in the bar please, come in don't hide out there honestly, you're very welcome I can, hear you. Come. On in. HoN. Yeah. Are. You comfortable where you are. Okay. I'm not going to drag you into the light then name and show me and all that. So. Rachel comes up to me into the bar at, gasworks. Arts, and she says I, like. Your work I said thank you very much. You're. Going to come here and mentor me. And. I very. Patronizing, Lee said I come. From a long way away. Now. I think I'm so right on I've got it covered around disability, what, to heap a crap because. In that moment what. I was betraying, was actually, what I saw first. Was. Her learning disability. She's. Become one of my long-term collaborators. Rachel will be seeing this film later so I'm just gonna give it away Rachel. Still. All about you I know. She. Said I was born in Middlesex. My. Father could have been a 10-pound pom I went. Was he she went nope, okay. I, will. Go and speak. To my director, she will find money you will come here not. To Melbourne, meet, me in Adelaide, that's where I live and, you will mentor, me there. And. That's exactly what she did she. Went, she found the Fonz I came, over to work with no strings to tax theatre not a taxed, attached, theatre, that's, a technical hitch and.
We've. Become long-term, collaborators. Can I see the next slide please. Rachel. Hi just, over a year ago in, the, clippings, Christmas, sure I think was December the third International. Day of people with disabilities. In Australia, back. Home it's International, Day of disabled, people and. At. The heart of that event we brought Rach over from Adelaide, or actually, Rachel insisted, on coming from what was. The point and, we. Were each doing sketches, around, risky, business and, we. Went back to an old sketch we'd made together which. Was about using, the body to barter, now. She knew, and had, operations, on both. Breasts, and she's fascinated, by this that she wanted to trace my scars so. She decided, we, would play with tattoos, as the idea we created, a parlor I chose. The name princess, for her she. Chose steak for me. And. It's a joy working with Rachel when I asked her what do we call this sketch she said well it's tit, for tat tattoos, I. Thought. That was the brightest, sparkliest most creative, response, I heard. What. I've learned working with Rachel is to, put her, first. Every. Time and. I. Learned the hard way because, I too am, prejudiced. We all are we. Absolutely all, are I'm checking it out every day I'm surprised, constantly. By my own nonsense, and I'm. Here talking about the, way I've learned is to get it wrong every time. With. Rach she, come over to London she was, on her way to Ireland, to do this great talk at the World Congress on, Down syndrome. I kid you not that's exactly what they call it, for. Want of a better name and. I'd. Sent the script to Rachel, about six months ahead of time so she could put, it together she learns. To remember, a story, through. Rhythm, repetition and, through placement on stage which actually, is exactly. The way I work around placement. On stage. We. Had enormous fun with that piece of work but. We're in London and we. Had only a week to run into this to do a showing at Brady arts theatre down, in Whitechapel it's in the news at the moment that's another story and. In. That week I got, really impatient, I started to worry about time. Money. Studio. Time very, costly I got. More and more antsy, about it about this you, know the Show and Tell coming. The. Publicity that, people, coming in and were paying to put bums on seats how. We gonna fill the theater all of that nonsense I mean. Actually I've learnt a lot here, at VCA, watching. How time. Is such a tight, commodity, round here there's. A kind of culture of high anxiety. Filling. They are every day every moment the ref the ref somewhere in the background is the ref and I go who's the ref who. Knows the rules. Which. Side are we on Who am I playing for. I. Stopped. Rachel in the street on the way to the theater one day and I said Rach. Come. On we've got to hurry up why. So slow. And. Rachel when she gets stubborn, just. Stops. And. Rocks. And. Then looks. And. Weights. She. Looked me straight in the face and she said what's. Wrong with slow. And. You. Know what I can't, answer that unless. I'm in the middle of the fast lane in the middle of the traffic what, is wrong with slow. Why. Don't we have time to dream and plan together why. Don't we make space for each other, I was. TheaterWorks the other night it, was rammed it was absolutely, filled I got. Caught up in a corner because the lights were too bright and I couldn't cope with the sound I was a bit overwhelmed, I'm. Pretty, sure other people feel like that sometimes but. My, friends, got. Caught in another corner, and one of my friends happens to use a wheelchair and did. Anyone think of moving their asses out of her face so that she could actually get through and we could have a chat. Why. Don't we have more time, for each other why, aren't we making space, there's. A kind of, passive. Lateral. Violence going, on in the, way we wipe each other out because we're so. Time. As a commodity it's precious we're so pressured. Next. Slide please. Back. To Alison lapper. She. Used her body to create a piece called the alternative Venus, again, part of beauty. Out of damage and.
Alison's. Work had, always impacted. On me when I used to a long time ago I love. That sound by the way I keep it in I don't know what it was. Any-any. Oh, god. I once had to do a gig where about five people in the room had Tourette's and I had to make it part of the script honest to god so. That's a bit like that mechanical, voice is part of it you know anyway. Alison lapper back to her Thank You beauty I have damage. She. Put in a bid to the Arts Council in England to get some funding to create the alternative, Venus de Mello. Again. Her. Funding was turned down next. Slide please. This. Chappie got a wad of funding that very same here. Marc. Quinn. Slappa pregnant. That's. When she was carrying her greatest, creation, she says her, greatest art, project, of all time his son Paris who. Would now be. Nearly. 17. Alison. Lapper pregnant, Marc Quinn well interesting. Responses. I mean. The work was, both, applauded. And. Absolutely. Vilified, so. We had a combination of people calling it bold brave, beautiful, the, observer of course left wing of center and then. True, Volga square the. Sun. Hmm. Predictable. Really. My. Point is. How. Might that have looked if Alison was leading the work. Just. Putting that there to think through, I. Understand. It's made a huge impact, and actually Alison herself would say look it. Has changed, people's views around disabled, women for, a start they have to think maybe. Were sexual, beings. Because. There. Was no star in the East when Alison got pregnant. Don't. Get me wrong she's into astrology. Next. Slide please. Throughout. The time I've been working with Michael exposure, I've been looking at the power of the gaze and whose stories, we tell and how we tell, those stories and, also. In, the, heart of the stories, I'm telling I'm, constantly, layering, access, and I try and do that from. The beginning from, the sketch book from. The idea on the table before we get it up on its legs I always say that now isn't that ablest speaking get it up on its legs. Lazarus. Get. It up on its legs do you not I mean, every. Moment I have to keep challenging myself so. Crossings was for Liverpool. Liverpool. Is, where I came from originally well. That's. Not when my mum and dad would say but. Anyway that's where I was born. It, was capital of culture it was 2008. It, was a piece for Dada festival, and I'd. Been approached by Margo. Cargill, there. Are five characters. On here, there's. Shelley. Fifteen-year-old. Mixed-race. From. Liverpool, pregnant. And trying. To get out of a gang this. Whole piece, was about. Migration. And. Also. About the. Oppression of women. Used. Through, sex trade. The. Next character, white-skinned, liked, hair, that's. Me by the way playing, catherine, Haggerty, who. Was a story. I got from a museum pitoni. Museum in New Zealand ante, papa in Wellington, museum. Wellington. New Zealand of, course. Catherine. Haggerty, was. Somebody who took her. Brother's, identity to. Travel, on a slave ship so. That she did not have to become, the.
Ship's Whore. No. Judgment, on those people who choose that profession, however, she. Did not want that for herself and she wanted her brother Peters. Identity, when, she arrived in New Zealand with, her thirty sheep and God knows how many Hector's, the, next person on dark. Skinned Margo, Cargill, is blind. Completely. Blind and we. Built the set around Margo's, access, requirements. The. Guy who made it was krysta via. The. Set was made of wood it was a grounded. Ship it was a ferry boat in Liverpool, that became Liverpool ship of shame a slave, ship called the zone but. The reason it was made of wood was because Marga was working in BER feet, the. Groins around, the ship and near, where, the ship was grounded. On this little bit of Jesse on, the top of it. These. Markings, so that she could very fleet of foot she could make her way very swiftly around that set it. Actually got an award there so that's another story, he's not here to tell that tale and then, next to Margo, Hattie. Mae Bayley, black. British, a, disabled. Woman. A sign language interpreter we've. Worked with for many many years who. Has Deaf culture, three generations in our own family and also, has. Been working with us at vital exposure for several years. We. Work to, layer in access, in that piece of work, essentially. Between you and me it was a contemporary, Scrooge. A, ghost. Story. One. Person, on ship is visited, by three voices, from the past that. Young woman had to fight for the life of her unborn child and she, was tested, and challenged, by these three voices from the past so we had different. Collision, of times, different. Collision of languages, in there as well and. For. Me it was a first, because. Our griot, which was a story from the British Museum Hattie, Mae Bailey played, came. On stage right at the outset of the show we had a big soundscape. And she. Signed immediately. To. The deaf audience and anyone using, British, sign language, to. Set them ahead of what was to happen next, well. What happens next anyone hearing can hear but, I got complaints, every. Story. And there are five short stories in that piece of work at, the head of it we had the griot come on and sign. Just, a few headlines tool, and deaf people ahead, of the story my reason for that is both, cultural, and political because. Deaf people are constantly, required, to play catch-up, the. Interpretation. Follows the voice so. Of course they're behind and. Usually. It's at the side of the stage, so. They're constantly required, to play ping-pong visually. Moving, from left to right and back again if you, don't get neck eight you get brain fry. But. The complaints my got well from hearing people. What. Is that person saying, why, are they signing at the head of each story. And. I said you. Will find out if you, listen. I'm. Leaving it where it is but. It was the beginning of an experiment, around layering. Access can, I get the next slide please the. Knitting, circle is a piece of work that honestly, has taken me many many years I lived and worked in an old Asylum, one of those big long care hospitals, for two years I went. There actually, on a placement as a drama therapist, don't. Ask me why I was training as a drama therapist, that's a whole of the young but, had a lot to do with the Sur character Estella me was far too sensitive, for theater. So. I landed up in this bin, I can't call it anything else it was a 2,000. Bed village, one. Of six in the north of London in the outskirts there full of social rejects. People. Society, did not want to know did. Not wish to see again once you were sent there and some people were only there on respite, they, threw away the key there. Was another cluster. They called it the Essex cluster, of five big, hospitals. To the southeast of London. So. I lived in a place called Harper, Bri Hospital a two thousand bed unit.
When. I started, to look at some of the notes of people in there I thought these people shouldn't, be here what on earth is this system, I felt, I couldn't leave so after my placement I stayed and I worked on a place called social education, Assessment Center I was, teaching social skills I know that's a laugh isn't it yes. You know me too well. Teaching. Social, skills I'm. Still learning myself. Look. I wanted. To bring together women, who I knew, shared the same histories. Many. Of them were in there because it said on the notes they were morally, deficient they'd, had a child out of wedlock the, child had been removed and taken somewhere else, some. Of those children landed, up in Australia. For. All I know that might be part of your story so forgive me we'll talk about that later I. Went. To it was old school nursing. System, hierarchy I went to the matron, who was called sister, Mary Frances, she's. The only name I hold on to because that woman was. Well. Ahead of their time she, died on the job at 54, but, let me tell you she knew, every. Single patients, name all mm. Probably more she. Knew them all and. When I went to her and I said I really want to do something for the women particularly, the women on Ward 7, who were the naughtiest critters, who've been locked in they, were on the locking ward even in this big village and. The. Reason I wanted to do that was to encourage. Them to talk to each other because it was during the era that Margaret Thatcher became an icon of social justice oh. How. We laughs. She. Was selling off all the land to make money she, was closing down the system and calling it community care, but. There were no resources in the community. So. We created a, system. Where people could start to talk for themselves about, where they wanted to go when they were decanted. Into the community they called the whole thing the Deacons I. Asked. Sister Mary Frances could I run a women's group, she. Said oh you'll never get away with that inside here. Not. Unless you seem to be doing something for the hospital shop I. Said. Why should I it's all about money so. I said well what will I do well. Now why don't you run a knitting circle I, said. I can't knit. Well. That doesn't matter I know. A woman who can sew, she released, nan Sweeney from Ward 7, now. Ward 7 is where the naughtiest critters, were remember, locked. In so. Suddenly I'm giving nan Sweeney a pair of knitting needles and a crochet hook. What's. Wrong with this picture. But. I ran that nursing, sorry, knitting group alongside, an Aires called Mario dryer for about eight months, maybe more and. What we were doing was encouraging, people to talk to each other about the past we. Were also, rehearsing. Case conferences. We. Used our theater skills. To. Imagine, what we would say in a case conference full, of 13, people are making decisions about your life when your decanted, from, the world you've known for what 30 40 years, sometimes. More I met. A woman who'd been in there from the age of 9 47. Years she did for stealing a bicycle. I'd. Love to see that bicycle. So. In. 2009. I found an old cassette tape some of you won't know what that is, in. The. Old days we had these little plastic things. With. Ribbon in I don't. Know how it works some kind of electronic signal as a cassette. Reels round, and, you hear these voices I, could. Hear voices only about but never mind. So. I found an old cassette and on it I was listening at these stories and I thought my god what happened to those women that was that group what. Became of them, so. I put feelers out through survivors, speak out through outer sight out of mind, so, there's national mental, health campaigning, organizations.
And, Bit, by bit where, it got round I got. Over 70 stories, and I, then had to woo, close. Down the call-out because there were just so many who, had never been heard before their stories weren't told, I. Got. Paula Crandall our director, at the time who. Ended, up doing the biggest gig on earth because, she directed, the opening, ceremony, of the Olympics with Danny Boyle now, I've got no competition with that I couldn't. Afford that gig so she, left halfway through the knitting circle but I had this to say, she. Stayed long enough to create this fabulous, piece of work with us that absolutely, sold out at Soho Theatre and, that. Would have been 2009-10. By. 2011. We, toured for 18 months and everywhere, we went utterly, sold out wasn't. Particularly brilliant piece of work. But, it was telling, people's stories, people. From that particular. Group and then, one day I received the phone call and. The. Phone call came, from a care worker it was working just up the road in Enfield in London and she. Rang me up and she said I knew Julia McNamara so, was what left me. Did. You work in half a BRE Hospital, I said yes I did I said, are you looking for tickets for the knitting circle because me it's all about me of course I'm thinking oh you, love, my work and you want to come and see it so you know. Again. Nonsense. There's. Three people here who want to talk to you they heard you on radio they. Would like a reunion with you I. Said. Who you talking about well, I'm not at liberty to give their names away I'm their care worker, but. Apparently, you lift, with them and they, want a reunion on the grounds of Harper berry Hospital where you all used to live they. Were in your knitting group and. I. Couldn't believe it and the first thing I said was oh hang on they. Closed that down didn't they in the. Early 90s, wasn't. That closed down wasn't, everybody Dee counted should. Have beg to differ it's still open there are 63, former, patients, you would have had living. In the cottages inside, that village now. So. I. Went. There of course with Charlie Kim young-soo another, long-term collaborator, who runs film, prohm we've worked together on the disability film festivals, for years and, I said to Charlie we've got to get down there but let's go a couple of hours ahead because I think, this is gonna be quite traumatic this visit and. One of the things I'd asked that care worker was please make sure we've got safeguards, in place can. We make sure that, there's enough people to support those three women who want to come back on the grounds where we used to live. To. Make sure that actually, whatever. Happened for them they'd be well looked after. We. Had the most amazing reunion. Italia. Standing. On the ground of, that place, was. Bizarre after. All those years I mean. I ran that group what 34, years ago, this. Reunion was. 2011. And. We. Filmed we. Made a party, together I, was. At Betty's 80th. Party, two years ago. It's. Amazing, how they thrived and survived and, how. Their stories, are still out there. Can. I go at the next slide. Look. That piece of work went for 18 months I decided to try something completely new because I discovered there were more voices inside, who were deaf women just thrown inside the system because they were deaf. Enough. Okay then we need to make sure that this is a completely bilingual piece, of work so. I had two deaf actors working with us Caroline. Parker, here at the bottom ally. Briggs at the top and. The other three characters. Thank. You au revoir somebody's, just left. The. Other three characters, on. This, stage two. Are hearing, actors who sign and the, other is somebody who's learning Makaton, which is a basic sign language of people with learning disabilities. What. Many. Of those signs would be in common. Kind of thing in the, groundwork of the full language. My. Mistake was, to. Think that this was a great idea eight people on stage I'd just like to draw your attention to the very busy patterns of these dresses for a start, look. It's culturally. Accurate, because they, were the 1980s. And people. Inside that system wore, clothing that looked like they dropped out the 1950s. The. Curtains, at the back we literally went to Harper brie Hospital in one of the wards and photographed, it and we took samples of some of their stuff as well I know I'm a tea leaf a thief but. Can. You imagine I'd like to draw your attention to the gaze. So. I'm looking, at. Five. Women each. One of them is looking in a different direction. The. Focus, is supposed to be on this deaf actor here Caroline Parker in the front is looking.
At A pattern, a knitting. Pattern we're. Retelling, the story of some of those women from the group, who'd. Had their children, taken. She's. Looking, at a baby on the front, of a knitting pattern and, she's. Pointing, to the baby this is the beginning of a scene about letting go of their child so. Really that should be the focus. But. No what have we got we've got an actor. Looking over here, we've. Got an, actor, looking down at the knitting patterns, thinking, what is next we've, got an actor up there looking, offset, completely, we've, got an actor over there looking. And. I can tell, that's. Becky, signing, something. She's. Got a finger, or thumb stroke, down her cheek about to sign something off set. Five. Different folks look it was too busy but. The interesting, thing for me was how deaf. People regionally. In the country responded to that people who work to. That piece of work or the people in the work both to. The north we got bouquets I, kid. You not at Dada festival which is the deaf and disability Arts, Festival based in Liverpool one of the biggest disability arts festival in the world still, going strong. Delighted. Jayne. Cordell who's the chair of that organization, said bouquets, bouquets, best. Thing I've seen with sign language at the heart of it we, get down South London. What. You do mate. Signing. They look like windmills, everything's, too loud too noisy it's too noisy we're. More subtle down in London I, learned. Something fresh every, time I took that piece of work out not. The next slide please the. Commission. I started, to tell you about at the very outset, that Alison, lapper and I have. Kind of bonded on which, is investigating, what goes on behind museums, I was, given this brilliant, provocation, by Richard sundown and Jocelyn Dodd who, asked me to go inside their museum collections, and lift the lid on the representation, of disabled, people. They. Asked me to go in with one question. Why. Are some lives more highly valued than others. That. Question, stays with me and to, be honest if I look back over the lifetime, of my work. Over 30 years now, that's. Been at the heart of what I'm trying to pick apart why. Are some, lives more, highly valued than others and. What are we doing about that are. We happy to accept, that are, we going along with that trope I.
Fell. In love with the Giant, these. Two slides here feature, a giant, puppet nearly, 15 foot tall. It's. On display at, Norman's, Field Asylum, which actually, is now Langdon, down Museum, of learning disability, it's, down near Hampton, Court Palace. Yeah. There's lots of palaces for royalty. This. Giant. Is the original. It's a hundred and sixty-three years of age they. Wouldn't let me take it out by the way well of course not in fact I wasn't supposed to touch it, this. First slide here is, me dressed as maudlin marry one of the characters, that I found in bedlam Museum. Museum. Of the mind, Bethlem. Nowadays, but, of course we know it was bedlam and. I'm. Holding a sign that says please do not touch this exhibit I. Have. To break the rules otherwise I wouldn't find out what it was made of and, also I'd fallen in love with him I had to let him know so I had to be a little more tactile. The. Second one as you can see we are in a full embrace there as. I look into the eyes or, actually up through the beard of an almost 15-foot, puppet I'll, tell you what was fascinating about it when it climbed inside it's, made of this massive, whiskey barrel, all. Would, steam, been and all the rest of it you know he. Had made this himself. Materials. He found inside, the hospital this. Guy James, Henry, pollen was. Put away as an, idiot, a guy. Born, in London in Dalston just down the road from where I live when I'm back there born. In 1835. He finally. Finished this in 1862. He. Was put away at the age of 12 I went. Through his notes on discovered, actually he was death, but. He was down as an idiot and later, known as the genius of Earls wood because, he was a self-taught, mechanical, engineer, and he. Had made three different puppet enroute to his kind. Of success, as a self-taught, carpenter, carver engineer. He. Made that puppet so that its ears waggled, its, jaw opened, its, eyes with these wonderful little venetian, blinds and they're kind of the lifts through the eye dots. These. Little kind of tallies, with. Tiny little ropes could. Open the eyes flash, the eyelashes. His. Arms, moved, but. Ps/2 resistance, he, had made a little railway, track around the bottom of the head on the neck and he'd. Made all of the ball bearings, himself, so that had could swivel 360, degrees. That. Was to frighten the nurses and also. And. Some. Of the people who used to come in on the, summer fete days when, they were all wheeled out the patients, from that particular asylum, were wheeled out onto, the grass and the, patrons, would come in to watch the lunatics, make Lively. It. Was his guardian. It's. Written about in his notes in his medical notes and I went through the notes with a careful, tooth comb because, he was described, as somebody who had no language who. Only used one word who, could not read and write and yet. We, know that in one of his carvings, inside. The tongue was a draw and inside, the draw was a carefully, penned poem, to his grandfather. Weeping. For. The loss of his, grandfather. And. For. The. Shadow over the moon is the way you described the poem. Can. We move on yeah so. It became my passion to have a rebuild, to make a replica of this puppet to, take it out on to Liberty Festival, Liberty. For freedom but. To cast people. Who would in the old days have been described, as idiots who, now challenge, that who. Are actors with learning disabilities. Thriving. And flourishing, in the community, living, and live just, as good as you and me just, as distinguished, a visiting, fellow as me whatever that means and so we, took over the. Olympic Park. With. Our own replica, pulpit this is. I think, his fist might be a bit more tightly clenched than the original, that. May have been me projecting, something about the battle ahead and. What. We do know about James Henry Pollan is that he used to sneak out of the asylum over, the wall and he fell in over the local barmaids in one of the taverns nearby and he asked her to marry him and she said yes, so. We went to the. People they're what we call them registrar's, or the seniors in that nursing hierarchy, in them days and said I request, permission to marry they. Refused him permission wouldn't have been allowed to because of legislation, but, they conned him they. Told him to mollify him but. Queen Victoria, had, requested, him as an, admiral, of her fleet now. They knew he was into anything to do with ships, he, was also introduced into.
Anything Shining so, they offered him an. Admirals. Uniform. They. Gave him a jacket with shiny buttons. Not. Unlike the one I'm wearing now actually, thinking about it. Anyway. He gave up his desire. To marry in exchange, for being, an admiral, of the fleet because he was told an admiral could never marry but. He was allowed to use that uniform, and wear it every day which he did apparently until. He finally died after. His 66, years inside, but. When we built, our replica, oh joy, of joys we devised, a piece of theatre together, looking. At. Freedom. Of speech, looking. At, United. Nations protections. Of disabled people and, looking. At what. We could get away with inside Liberty, Park. Inside. That festival, on the stadium where. The Olympics was first, shown in 2012. And. What was great was all, of those people learning disabilities, given, their own voice and saying what they wanted to happen with, this character, we brought out and they, led that, parade right the way through the park. Disability. Led Theater. Disability. Land whose voice was there first and you, could argue it's a conceit of mine really, speaking. About James Henry pollen from his voice he's not yet his story you know. There's an arrogance in me saying that there's. Also the. Fact that what we have written down was only ever written by medics, you know whether it was the doctors or the nurses who, were describing his behavior. It's. Debatable. Poetic. License, let me away with that for now next, slide please so. I'm. Passionate about the trouble with access and one of the reasons I'm here is, talking, tonight but also running, a series of workshops with some of the people who are gathered here today and. I'm looking at how we can layer in access. Constantly. Playing with fresh ideas I know I'm not if you are working with this yourselves there's some fabulous work happening, in Australia we're. On the cusp of big changes, and I think it'd be great if we could all get together and go okay what worked for you oh I. See you're still using stage tests well that terrifies, me I can't sit with the stage text, or, what about you what, are you are you work with the cow so, the script is up there in graffiti, one. Of the best pieces of work I've ever seen was timber theater Sophie Wooley who had the whole script, in graffiti on this wall projected. The. Script going, around them on the wall beautiful. How. Does that work if. You're visually impaired are. You. Missing, some of the aesthetic, I. Fell. In love with. The work of Lachlan, Philpott on Allison Campbell. Lachlan. Philpott's, writing now he's one of your national treasures, I hope you get to hear or see, some of his work or witness it in some way grab, some of the scripts it's well worth the read I fell in love with colder, and I fell in love with the trouble with Harry we. Called our. Explorations. The trouble with access because to be honest I get, so tired of some of the access, that, we're confronted, with when we go to a piece of theater or the lack of it no.
Access At all. You. Can see where I'm going so the series of workshops we have been doing alongside this lecture are to literally, play experiment. Look at layers. Inside. To, text from Laughlin's work because. What I discovered, in his work as he's got a narrative, voice there's. A descriptive, voice there. Are witnesses. Characters, inside almost coral speakers commenting. On where they are in the present, what they see around, them in the heart of the work it's. Just a slight jump in a skip into audio description. And, by. Audio description, for those of you not in the know, it's. Basically a service for people who are visually impaired or blind. To. Get to know what, are the visuals, information. That loud me and part of this story that are missing just give me some of that. We're. Playing with different pace, and rhythm, how, much sign. Language, do we need how. Much visceral. Physical visit. What's. It called visual vernacular. Which. Is part, of the heart of sign language on stage how, much of that do we need before. We kind of lose. The. Aesthetics, of the script of the text, it's, a delicate balance, I'm. Still trying to find out but, it's exciting. Here. Is one. Of the important. At the screen there's two slides behind me on the first slide we've got four characters, in view, two. Of these are blind actors. One. Is a deaf actor, and. The. Lead here right in the foreground the tallest, actor looking back towards, the other is being. Line fed, Bionic, hemming the. Fourth person in view we. Decided, to make line feeding part of the work because. We like the kind of echo lahic thinking, and the sound of it so you heard one voice and then another now, the set up at the beginning had to be really important, to let people know this, was what we were doing and they, would hear a voice just behind, or. Just ahead. The. Set up was also important, to make it very clear for people with learning disabilities. Otherwise it became too busy, but. What we found was really fresh, it was exciting and I'm. Still playing so, stay, with me we'll get there. Can. We move on to the next one thank. You, I'm. Gonna. Grab some water because, I'm losing my own voice now. These. Images, I just put up, it's. From a piece of work I did with my mother let. Me stay, my, mother had Alzheimer's, I, say hard because she died five months ago. I. Like, to think she's gone on to the next adventure and let, me tell you 16 years with Alzheimer's, is, tough.
But. She enjoyed it. She. Is somebody quite honestly, I can say she. Challenged, the negative trope around somebody who's given that diagnosis. From. The moment she got it first off she was afraid she was terrified of losing us and. I. Was in New Zealand when she first got that diagnosis. But. Thereafter she, made a decision that she was going to make this work for her and, by God she did everywhere. We went it was a party, just for her and. Everywhere. We went and I'll, tell you if you're gonna get it this is the way to go everywhere. We went she was in charge and. She, let you know it, so. When I said to her I want to make a piece of work because I think your, view of the world is very very different and are you happy with us doing that together oh god, we have to go through the safeguarding. We. Had to go through protections. In place to, make sure everybody, was carefully. Looked after including. Myself it. Was a tough piece of work but I'll tell you what it, was the most loving. Work we. Could have done together now my mother was somebody she was known as Shirley Mac queen of the Mersey when. She was queen of the Mersey, she. Was somebody who wanted to be on stage most of her life, so. She had been given to heckling, every piece of work, and. One. Point and prepared, somebody on the follow spot I said there will be somebody tonight who was bound to heckle will you just pick him out please and we'll find them. So. When it came to make this piece of work she chose, the title out of one of her favorite songs she. Chose the clips were used, she, sang four of her favorite songs as kind of hooks for the stories we told, and. She, the end of that show, it. Was an extraordinary piece of work my favorite moments after 15 months of touring that was when she came, to see the last piece we had to get it released from, the care, home she was now bang doping because she'd gone too far one day wasn't. Me that Porter there let me say was. Her own business. When. They let her out she came to this place we were showing let me stay at a dementia, village and overlooking the Mersey and. She came with my sister and niece and. She sat at the edge of this piece of work let me stay, the. Design, was, beautiful, because it was a fragmented, brain if, we go to the next slide you'll see what I mean. The. Projections, on the back were all my mother and I. Interacted. With that I moved. In between playing my mother or challening, channeling. Her I would say and so, we were a little concerned at how she might respond to seeing herself hearing, her own voice, seeing, her family, memories and the clips that she chosen when, she was confronted, with that on the last day she. Was. Up there on stage quick. As a shot and, what. Was a joy was I was able to introduce her to the audience, and say this is the real star of the show. What. I will say is. If. We. Put disabled. And deaf voices, first if we go as Rachel. High would ask us what's wrong with slow if we go as slow as the slowest person in the room and build our work from there, everybody. Is, heard. Everybody, is included in that piece of work my, mother taught me something extraordinary, she. Taught me how to work the Hilton Hotel she, taught me how to work ITV, the whole room in here gardening, clothes. She. Taught me not to give a. She. Taught me that it doesn't matter that she had a Wellington's, on. She. Taught me that it doesn't matter that her hands were soiled and her fingernails, filled. With dirt. She. Taught me that love comes first. And I'll tell you what I will always be grateful for learning. Some of the tricks around audio description, because, at the night of my mother's passing she waited for me to come home I was. Away with is a whoreson, and Jack Phillips one of your national treasures from Adelaide, we. Were in Dublin when.
I Got the news that my mother was going to go I got. Home and she'd waited. So. I asked her I said. Would. You like one last dance. And. She nodded. And. So, I took her in my arms and, she was lying there on the bed and I, mean. Very close to passing to, the next adventure. And. I. Described, for her I said. Surely you're wearing your favorite dress. 1950s. Floral, frock full circle, oh you can, spin in this and you can spin on a sixpence. At. Every, corner of this room we're in the oldest although your favorite, dance hall, can. You feel the parquet floor underfoot, can. You smell that musty polish, those. Big raggedy, red velvet curtains, on the side with the gold brocade tactile tassels, used. To tug at them you brought one home on dance night. All. Your favourite boyfriends, and there were many all, your favourite boyfriends, are gathered about you France. There that was me Dad in his, shabby shoes. They've. Got that dodgy Glen Miller Band on again can you hear them. Yeah. Brenda's. Here your sister she borrowed you a dress and she's got your makeup on I know it really annoys you, she'll. Give that lippy back one day. Are. You ready to dance and, she. Nodded and I. Sang her favorite song to her. Forever. And. Ever. Our. Hearts, will be true, sweetheart. Forever. I'll, wait, for, you, we. Both made a promise. That. We'd never. Part. Let's. Seal it, whether kids. Forever. My. Sweetheart. Let. Bygones. Be bygones. Forever. We. Will fall in love once again. So. Let's, tell, the world of, our new, loved around. Forever. And. Ever. You'll, be, mine. Forever. And. Ever. You'll. Be. Mine. And. All. The way through, she. Had one hand up going like this. And. I, said are you conducting the band, she. Nodded I said. There's no change there you, better keep going then there's somebody waiting for the next dance your dance card, is full. And. She. Closed her eyes and. A. Few hours later she passed beautifully. Peacefully, and I will always be grateful for those few. Sessions of audio description I, was taught earlier on, just.
To Be able to stay with her in the moment you know. I'm. Gonna end tonight's. Talk because, my mouth's dry and you're looking weary and let's get out there because there is food and drink and I want you to drink, and eat us out of house, a home do you not I mean I was, trying to say out of house and home not even either but. I'm gonna leave here one last comment because the elephant in the room is what happened last night with that budget can we have the last slide please. So. Back. In the UK. What. They did to us as disabled, people over, the last five, years. Was. Try, and starve, us out of existence, with, a whole new system called p i-- p, your. System here is called ND is they. Made that system, back home in UK the most complex, bureau pratik nightmare, to get through having taken, away funding. Around independent, living funding. Around mobility support. Funding. From disability, tax credits, funding. Funding funding you name it they took it away they're still taking it away over, the last five years of that awful. Government we now have in place and. I can't even talk to you about brexit, and that nonsense what a massive, game of poker that was well, Boris Johnson went to play cricket David, Cameron went off and had a holiday, Nigel. Farage just hid. During. That nonsense. Five. Years. 28%, of austerity, measures have been shouldered, by deaf and disabled people. Do. Not let this happen here, why is there no outcry, today after what happened last night 7. Billion pound under spend and 6 billion, there chlorine so it's not a pound it's dollars. Six. Billion, dollars, clawed. Back from MDIs, because as they say there's. An under use of the service. Really. Really. I. Know. For a fact that people. Have got caught up in this awful. System, which. I hate to think has been bought up from the UK but I'm beginning to smell a rat I. Agree. I totally, agree with you what. Are we going to do can. I just say we. Need to work together all. Of us. With. Care and compassion for each other, and. I just want to remind you when we get outside, there'll. Be a rush for the food, I'll. Be first out there let me tell you they've. Got the Prosecco out there already poured I'll be the first. But. Can I just remind you. Those. Of us who are tall and walkies, please. Remember our comrades, and colleagues, who, may be using a chair may be shorter, in stature may. Be different, in speed, what's wrong with slow. Let's. Do it together. I'll call saeho mr. thank you. I lost. You the QA. Hello.
I'll. Just do without you hear me all right. Okay. So we'd probably do need to use microphone, comes on to the film. And, we, are a little bit. What. Do we need to do sorry. Sorry, everybody. Thank. You oh. We've. Killed now, we've, got rid of you, know the. The. Upper layers of hearing hear em or. I have, filled them off. Yes. You can leave this, is the this. Way you can go straight out you know. True. And just, to the right for. That oh I can't see. That's. Meeting. A blind literally, thank, you that, was a nice dance, doing. Braille you'll find somewhere to wait anyway. Okay. That's so rude I'm. Going, to teach social skills no no. And. Perhaps. I, don't know if there's someone else I can send who knows where that um, accessible. Toilet is but Eric I think I outside will direct that's fine um. Is, there anybody who'd like to ask a question I'm gonna come up and Rove with the mic. We. Got any questions. Oh yeah. Great okay I'm coming over now. Sounds. Like Dan Morris it's, Dan Morris, all right. Thank, you so much Mac for that amazing, talk and just. Giving, us that kind of thumbnail. Sketch, of your amazing. Broad, long, experience. In this space it's really. Really inspiring, and. I loved it there is a question here the question is. You. Mentioned, sometimes. Like response, general, response, or media. Response, I'm wondering what your impression. Of audience, response, over. Over, the 30 years has been has it changed our audience. General audiences, more. You. Know willing to go and see what might have been perceived as specialty, theater at one time has, it gone backwards. Can. You give us an idea is, his son oh yes thank, you thank, you it depends where you are depends, on cultural, context. It, depends too on. How. Much funding there is in the region you're working you, know and I. Took that piece of work I did with me mom let me stay to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland I absolutely, adored, working, in care homes but. I was, very swiftly. Aware that, people there were starved. Of culture, locally, and actually. Thrilled, to have a piece of working with sign language at the heart of it some, people I was working with up there in the highlands had never seen work like that before so. That was extraordinary. I. Could, take it to Hackney the same piece of work and they're like oh. Come. On that sign is like a windmill oh. Do. You know what I mean I mean you. Get it, context. How. Much funding, how, much exposure, people have had to the kind of work we're doing, depends. Where you are. We. Got one here. I. Was. Just wondering, all. Of these projects, that you've done, that you've shown us tonight. Sound. Amazing but how. Did you get people to take you seriously and proposing, these projects, at the beginning. Given. That whilst. It's, not incredibly. Obvious there you, do have challenges, and disabilities, how. Did you get people take you seriously give you money to, do something. It's. A great question, it's. A great question, listen, I'm, a professional, bullshitter.
And. I've. Met a few here while I've been here as well. And. Because. I can pass I think, particularly. In the cold light of day if I can get away with not wearing these they don't recognize me coming through the door for a you, know she, not I mean get. In I'm the thin end of the wedge. Look. The first funding, I ever found was completely, out of the box nobody, would have thought of it really but I'm a bit of a you know docker and diver. It. Was for a road safety show for children and it was up in Liverpool and, I'd been in selling, ice cream out of fridge is outside of Lime Street station, and I. Was aware that, actually, a lot. Of the statistics, around. Road. Accidents, children of a certain age where kids running, out for ice cream - ice cream vans now. It's not that Liverpool, ice cream drivers, are particularly murderous, no, it. Was the lack of road safety and education in schools or what-have-you so we took this road. Safety show around schools but in order to fund it I wrote, to Cheshire made ice cream that, used to supply us and I went to, you know the statistics. Of children, who are dying children, who are injured, children who are absolutely, mashed on your roads are because, they're looking for your ice cream. So. The first funding we got was 500, quid from Cheshire made ice cream. I'm. A bullshitter oh I'll. Tell you another one as well this is slightly barking, mad well it is I'm a madwoman make good you must have checked that by now I. Got. Funding through the drugs industry, because I wrote these letters and, and then I just changed the name at the top of them and sent them out around the drugs industry, to all of the kind of makers, of various, medication. I wrote them and I said look. Here old chap I'm a marvellous role model I've been munching your stuff for many years. How. Would you like to have me on your poster. How. Would you like on your a fad all sorts of nonsense anyway, some of them gave me money to go away, Glaxo. Klein, Smith gave us a thousand, pound for, each project we did over a year. And then at a cost of a thousand pound a day sent. A team of five people to come and watch us for a day shadow made home and that was the most uncomfortable experience. But, that was money I see. I who've, probably disabled, more people, across the industry than war across, the world even they. Gave us 30,000 quid over three years for our disability, film festival, but, that's because they had to take their box and I, knew that I knew, there was a kind of shift in corporate, social care, and responsibility. And. I've always got me nose out for who's giving money away, so. Let's, have a chat later. We've. Also had. Sponsorship. From wicked, from. Can't. Remember now which Prosecco, it was but a load of plonk Yoon always get load of plonk. Thank. You yes that is the right response. If. They're. In last question, as you've probably all this one up there I'll probably make it the last one down here Jack's as well so maybe I'll take two more questions as you can probably tell Michael. Talked for a long time I in you know Boyet. As well til, til you're done so I'll go up here and then I'll come down to Jack's and that would be the last one if that's all right. Can. I just ask about the. Creative. Process. How. Much do. You. Dominate. The script writing process, or. Are. The you. Writing about the actors lives, and. In. Performance, is it linear narrative or. Slices. Of life. Let's, start with the first one to process, and. You. Spot it I think I do dominate, the script sometimes. It's. Never, about the actors lives, no. I do. Choose actors, who I think, have lived experience. And I'll check that in with them so for example the knitting circle, was, a wonderful, process to work with we, cast six, actors. Each had some kind of experience around mental health either somebody in the family or their own lived experience, or one. Of them had actually run a, halfway. House during. The years of D count and, an, out in the community had supported, it was actually in Greek Street in Soho, supported.
A Women's hostel, that, process, we, match six actors, up with six former patients, six former members of staff because they'd become just as institutionalized. And I. Send them off with three questions. Who. Are you, what. Are you doing here and where. Should you be, then. It brought the six, actors, back into the annex of near, the hospital kind of thing in this, it. Was near people show theater and hot. Seated, them by that we. Put each one at a time in the seat and ask those three questions who. Are you what are you doing here where. Should you be and. I. Kept making notes now because I didn't want it to be just about who I remember during, those two years in the asylum didn't, want it to be just about my experience. Of that I wanted, to hear from those, experiences. The actors had lived through in those, investigations, but also the. 70-odd storytellers. That we had coming back in do you not I mean, so. That was an extraordinary process and that took me a long time and that was careful on picking the weight of responsibility around. Those testimonies, was huge I had. To make composite, characters, and tease. Out the themes because, there were themes, in common to all of those storytellers. But what, they'd lived through in those, walls behind those walls what. Was your other question yeah. Just how, the works present. Is that just. A, straightforward, narrative. Or, do. You play around with form do. You experiment, with the form of who I experiment, with all sorts of stuff I mean what. I forgot to say before was crossings, for example, which is about migration, sexual, slavery, we. Had the sign language interpreting, on the sails of the ship as well, as the Great coming forward and landing people in advance, with sign language at the beginning of each of the five stories, I, use projection, a lot I use. The. Written word inside, the projection, the. Disappear, Dorothy, Lawrence which, was about a young journalist, who'd got lost in the first world war in the trenches she served for 15 days, dressed, as a man called, sapper, Lawrence. That. Set was fabulous, because we have this kind of disheveled asylum, on one side that disappeared, into a bar on the trenches, and the. Windows, were kind, of, where. We projected, back projection to. Characters, in dialogue, and all of the sign language was projection, of these. Two, characters, from the trenches looking down on the, first world war scene and commenting, throughout and we had. The whole script, in text as well. Tha