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Rockinpaddy - disability arts online
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Rockinpaddy hits the road with Graeae, but first a quick blog / 11 October 2010

Four weeks of intensive rehearsals and to be completely honest it’s been a ball. We have had a real laugh. It’s been hard work too, with times where we've really had to think through how a particular piece was going to work.

This thinking through was often about how we were going to recover/survive from a fast past song with accompanying choreography to deliver the next critical line. Accessibility has been at the forefront of how we worked things.

The pace of the songs and the language used has been challenging but hilarious too. Let's just say Ian Dury's lyrics provide a colourful canvas to sign upon. It was great at the Liberty Festival to see people singing and signing back at us and we definitely want more of that at the shows please.

The show is also audio-described and these accessibility features are integral to our performance, an equal part of the delivery of the show. It’s worked in rather than bolted on. It is about access but it has a performance aesthetic too.

Reasons to be Cheerful has created a bit of a buzz with media interest surrounding Dury, Graeae and it’s relevance to now. It’s really nice to know friends far and wide are planning to come and see it. Graeae's beautiful and now 'award winning' (this week!!) Bradbury Studio's has been immersed in Dury attitude, Dr Marten Boots and walnut whips (all will become clear at the show).

I've had to do a few interviews where I've had to really think about my response in terms of Disability portrayal. What I mean by this is the realism of disability for me, challenging perception, being true to the need for comprehensive social change. This manifests in the question asked each time about the relevance of a show set in 79 and its relation to what's going on now.

I think its relevance is summed up in Dury's sleeve note on the banned Spasticus Autisticus

Spasticus Says:
"My tribe knows no national boundaries
And pays no heed to race or creed.
I come among you as an example
sent by my tribe to portray them as they are,
As beautiful as I am.

In all my glory my tribe can generate
warmth and fear in people from other tribes:
Some people would stone my tribe
and cast them out:
Others foster and nurture we of my tribe.
The extreme members of my tribe
are killed at birth.

Without the aid of others my tribe
can only crawl slowly.
Hello to you out there in normal land.
We too are determined to be free.”
Spasticus Autisticus, August 1981
 

For me this is definitely a war cry, so let's do it loud. Let's be angry, let's have a laugh at the ridiculousness we sometimes/always experience, let's celebrate who we are.

Ipswich is pretty well sold out and London comes next (22nd October till 13th November). I really hope you can come along and have a fun night that's also in yer face and a bit naughty.

Next blog: My learning as an artist/performer, lover & fighter.

To see a promo for Reasons to be Cheerful go to http://vimeo.com/16200664

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