Today was made up of creating the script for the presentation tomorrow and Saturday. I have taken some of the ideas from the people I have been speaking to and created a duologue between an elderly husband and wife, talking to the audience about their son, born in the 60s with Down’s Syndrome.
I have decided to intersperse this with the actual conversation I had with one of the parents. I think her voice coming through alongside the characters gives the piece a real human quality.
At the moment it’s around half an hour. The actors are coming in tomorrow and also some technical work will be
going on too. There are lots of exciting people coming who I hope can point the project in the right direction.
But tomorrow it’s all about working with the actors to find the best ways to communicate the ideas to the audience. And I’ll be doing lights and sound. Ooft.
Today was a bit of a headache: transcribing a two and a half hour conversation then putting some structure to it to create a through line. Still don’t know what I’m trying to achieve but I think it’s getting there.
The story is now from the point of view of an elderly mother and father who are talking about their son with Down’s syndrome. I’m mostly using the conversation with Margaret as well as some other pieces of info I’ve managed to pick up from other agency workers I’ve spoken to. Also found some stories online which all seem to fit together.
At the moment I’m worried it’s going to come across as too heavy or worthy – which is something I’m trying to avoid. I’ll be looking for ways to keep it informal, conversational and light.
Tomorrow is all about continuing to write now that I have a loose structure.
Today I met with a woman called Margaret who lives in Edinburgh. She got in contact through a learning disability organisation and was keen to talk to me about her son who was born in 1965 with Down’s Syndrome.
I went along with my dictaphone and we chatted for about 3 hours. Her story is fascinating and exciting as it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. We covered lots of ground including attitudes when her son was born, the various provision that was on offer, the fear and worry of her and her husband. It was also interesting to talk to her about her more recent experiences – the fact that the biggest struggle in maintaining her son’s care and provision came only this year with threatened cuts to his support. I think this is a timely, relevant area to focus on. Thankfully her story is a positive one with little prejudice, but still sheds light on the complexities of the topic.
So together with her story and a chat I had with a woman from Enable, I’m starting to get to grips with the focus of the piece – the stories of parents affected by issues of disability and how to present them to an audience. Also positioning the modern attitudes with those of the past – an appealing exploration.
Another angle I’m looking at is the realisation that this generation – parents who had children in the 60s and earlier – are dying out and sadly their stories with them. If I can collect their stories and give them a voice then maybe we won’t forget what it meant to be disabled in Scotland in our recent past.
So tomorrow is going to be about putting this on paper – and how to present it theatrically.
Today was my first day of a Tron residency where I’m working on a new performance piece centred on ideas of disability. I’m working on ideas for a week and then I will be presenting my findings on Friday and Saturday (1st and 2nd) at 7.45pm with two actors – Anita Vettesse and Keith Macpherson.
I’ve been working in Cardonald College for the past
five years with adults and young people with various learning difficulties, additional support needs and disabilities and have recently started a MA in Inclusive Education. So for a while I’ve wanted to bring the threads of my practice together and work on a theatre piece that can look at some of the issues I’ve experienced over the years. It’s also quite exciting to imagine the performance potential of my research and experience.
But ‘disability’ as a theme is massive and requires some focus. Today I’ve mostly been asking myself why I want to tackle this topic and how it fits in with my previous work. So today I came up with some areas of exploration:
· Language– especially Glasgow/west coast terms and phrases. Also how these ideas are communicated to an audience through words and stories.
· Family – I think the focus for this piece is going to be on those on the periphery. So I’m not concentrating on actors with disabilities or learning difficulties – I think that’s a different project. I’d like to present viewpoints, stories, experiences, judgements...
· Changes – how has the provision for people changed over the last forty/fifty years? And has the progress continued or are we going back again (recent cuts to centres, support works, education etc).
At the moment I’m thinking the piece will be a combination of recorded conversations and live dialogue – a mix of fact and theatrical interpretation.
Today though has mostly been made up of emailing and phoning organisations to ask for support (attending the work in progress) or help in finding people to talk to, so I can gather some stories. Tomorrow however I’m meeting with a woman whose son was born in 1965 with Down’s Syndrome. She’s very keen to talk about the struggles she has faced as a lone carer over the years. I hope this will be a major element in the piece, and I’m looking forward to hearing her stories.
Will update tomorrow.