A play which explores the daily joys and frustrations of four proudly independent disabled actors will be staged at the Northcott as part of a mini festival.
Don’t Push Me Around is an original piece of theatre devised by the quartet of emerging artists, along with CEDA (Community Equality Disability Action) and Exeter Northcott Theatre.
The show, which will be performed at 2pm on April 25, emerged from a series of workshops and shines a light on the everyday highs and lows of their lives and challenges perceptions of disability among non-disabled people.
It is part of CEDA’s Possible Arts Festival, a mini festival of arts and disability at Exeter venues, which runs from 22 to 27 April.
From Rona’s frustration as she tries to gain access to her first floor accommodation when the lift is broken, to Ashley’s isolation and powerlessness when his “voice is taken away for repair”, it offers an inspiring insight into the lives of four very different people who cherish and proudly defend their independence.
Director Conor Magee said the title “just popped up” during a discussion about how motorised wheelchairs and voice synthesisers have greatly improved independence and access, in its broadest sense, for the actors.
“It also references how many non-disabled people, however well-intentioned, frequently ‘get it wrong’,” he explained.
“But if we sometimes get it wrong it’s usually because we don’t know.
“We don’t know what it’s like to spend much of our day waiting for people to help us, to take us places, to get us out of bed, to repair the technology on which we are so reliant, to improve our everyday access to shops, places, homes, transport.”
Lisa Hudson, Creative Learning Manager at Exeter Northcott Theatre, said the partnership with CEDA – along with similar work being done with Exeter Deaf Academy – was having a profound effect on the theatre.
She said: “We are constantly talking about how we can make our programme, our outreach, and our space more accessible for both makers and audiences.
“Being part of this process has enabled us to better understand the theatre-making experience – as well as the lives – of disabled artists such as Julian Hopkins, Ashley Cousins, Rona O’Donnell and Paul Webster and we’re grateful to CEDA for inviting us to be part of such an amazing project.
“The journey we have been on with CEDA and other organisations such as Exeter Deaf Academy is allowing us to make the changes we can in the short term, and is informing our practice, our programme, and our culture for the future.”
The Possible Arts Festival
A mini festival of arts & disability at Exeter venues, 22-27 April
Venues across Exeter will feature the work of disabled artists during The Possible Arts Festival.
Organised by CEDA (Community Equality Disability Action) in partnership with Exeter venues, the mini festival includes an exhibition, theatre performance and drop-in workshops for disabled and non-disabled participants.
The festival will showcase some of the work created during CEDA’s Arts Council funded projects working with professional and emerging disabled artists and creating opportunities for its members through arts and creative workshops.
Exhibition – This is Me
22-26 April, AWEsome Art Space, Paris Street
This is Me is an exhibition with a theme of identity and self, profiling the work of professional and emerging artists who have worked with CEDA. The art on display includes a giant book sculpture by James Lake, silhouette photography by Mark Ware and ceramics created by CEDA members working with artist Emily Parr.
Workshops and activities
Plaster keepsakes, upcycling and printing are amongst the workshops taking place at the AWEsome Art Space. CEDA will also be hosting a live radio show with Access All Aerials.
At the AWEsome Art Space, there will be a showing of a small film which will be created during CEDA’s dance project with Dance in Devon and Far Flung Dance. From 15 to 18 April, CEDA members, staff and visitors will be invited to take part in dance activities at CEDA’s hub at the Clare Milne Centre.
Arts & Disability Think-In
Wed 24 April, Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery
Disabled artists, representatives of arts organisations and others will gather at a Think-In to share knowledge and help to create better opportunities for disabled people as artists, participants or audiences. Amongst the topics for discussion are how to ensure that opportunities are available for a wider range of people, not just the more confident and articulate. Speakers include Daniel Buckroyd and Lisa Hudson of Exeter Northcott Theatre, underwater wheelchair artist Sue Austin and photographer Mark Ware.
Theatre Performance – Don’t Push Me Around
2pm, Thursday 25 April, Exeter Northcott Theatre
Don’t Push Me Around is an original play devised by four actors, which explores the everyday highs and lows, joys and frustrations of their lives as disabled people. The actors have worked with CEDA and Exeter Northcott Theatre to make this new piece of theatre which explores themes of disability, accessibility and creativity.
More information about the festival is available on CEDA’s website.
Easter Monday 22nd April
10.30- 4.00pm Family Craft Day- Drop in anytime at the AWESome Art Space- Paris Street
Tuesday 23rd April
1.00- 3.00pm Upcycling workshop
at the AWESome Art Space- Paris Street
Wednesday 24th April
11.00-3.30pm Arts and Disability Think-IN at RAMM- Queen Street
Tickets available online www.cedaonline.org.uk
Thursday 25th April
12.30-3.00pm Plaster keepsakes
at the AWESome Art Space- Paris Street
2.00pm Don’t Push Me Around Drama Performance at the Northcott Theatre- Stocker Road
Tickets available from the Northcott Theatre Box Office
Friday 26th April
The CEDA Dance- A Premiere- Drop in anytime at the AWESome Art Space- Paris Street
1.00pm Access all Aerial Live– Be a part of a live radio show at the AWESome Art Space- Paris Street
Saturday 27th April
12.30-3.00pm Print Workshop with Double Elephant at the AWESome Art Space- Paris Street
CEDA Arts receive support from Arts Council England to facilitate a wide range of creative opportunities for disabled people. The programme aims to:
- Ensure a year round programme of arts and creative projects which are accessible to everyone
- Help all artists develop professionally through working with us
- Support disabled artists
- Bring arts to the lives of as many disabled adults and children as we can
- Ensure work of the highest quality