Disabled-led theatre company Graeae has announced plans for a three-month digital programme designed to celebrate D/deaf and disabled artists.
Harry Potter playwright Jack Thorne, who is collaborating on the project, said he believed disabled artists’ stories are now more important than ever, warning that the current coronavirus crisis is resulting in disabled people being ignored “in a much more dangerous way” than ever before.
Created over the past month for audiences in lockdown, Crips Without Constraints – a Play, a Podcast, a Picture will comprise three elements: new plays, a podcast and an image series.
Thorne’s involvement is on the new work strand of the programme, which has seen Graeae commission 11 D/deaf and disabled artists to create a monologue in isolation.
Writers include Khush Chahal, Adam Fenton, Kathryn Golding, Shahid Iqbal Khan and Hannah Treadaway, while each piece will be read by a D/deaf or disabled actor and introduced by Thorne.
The writers also include Gobscure, Raji Gopalakrishnan, Jamie Hale, Daisy Higman, Ink Asher Hemp and Anita Kelly, whose monologue Flesh begins the series.
One monologue will be streamed online each Monday for the next 11 weeks, beginning with Kelly’s on April 20. They will be captioned and audio described.
Thorne said: “I have watched disabled people being ignored in my industry for a very long time. Now, at a time of national crisis, they are being ignored in a much more dangerous way. People are being told they are not going to be put on vents if they need them.
“People are being told the health service needs to cater for others, not them. Disabled people are being left to die in their homes. So listening to them, hearing their stories, feels more important than ever.”
As part of the programme, Graeae will also release a podcast, which begins next week with an interview between Touretteshero’s Jess Thom and Graeae associate director Nickie Miles-Wildin.
The plans also include Picture, a series of images celebrating D/deaf and disabled artists, which are being re-released from the company’s archive.
Jenny Sealey, Graeae artistic director, said the project encapsulates Graeae’s desire to celebrate the “talent, creativity and resilience of the D/deaf and disabled artists who make Graeae what it is”.
“I’m so thrilled that we’re not only releasing brand new work through the Play element, but also re-imagining and celebrating the glorious diversity of our community with the Podcasts and the Pictures. I can’t wait to see what the 11 writers participating come up with, and enormous thanks to our patron the brilliant Jack Thorne, along with Esmee Fairbairn and Arts Council England for supporting this part of the programme.”
The programme will be available online from April 20 on Graeae’s website and social media pages.