There is a strong tradition of disabled women (inclusive of trans women), non binary people, and comedy in a variety of ways in the disability arts movement in the UK. And disabled men of course, many revolutionaries there too, but we wanted a space for specific things. It's a powerful way to shatter preconceptions of what and who people expect us to be. The list of pioneers who use comedy, humour and satire in their work includes Barbara Lisicki, Liz Carr, Mavis Dishcloth (aka Sue Vass), Francesca Martinez, The Nasty Girls, Triple Cripples - Olajumoke 'Jay' Abdullahi and Kym Oliver. Karen Sheader uses it in her songwriting, similarly Dolly Sen in her cultural interventions, JulieMc McNamara, Jess Thom and Rosie Jones. Tammy Reynolds, Amelia Cavello and Lady Kitt explore, celebrate and explode expectations with drag. As well as excellence in their artform these artists and campaigners bring about radical change, much needed in all disability communities.
Through our Funny Haha projects we've met some incredible disabled women comedy writers, some of whom we share more information about below. Last year we ran a comedy writing course, which this year evolved into a comedy writing room. It has proved to be an invaluable space, where we have not needed to explain ourselves, where we have done our very best to be as accessible as possible, where we definitely have been covid safe, where we have reduced our isolation but where we have laughed and laughed and laughed - even at the dark stuff, in fact sometimes especially at the dark stuff.
Culture is full of stereotypes of disabled women as passive, simpering, tragedy cases created by non-disabled people, and whilst we acknowledge the difficulties and oppression we face, we also celebrate our complexities as people. We celebrate them and champion greater platforms. We're not a side show - we are very firmly a group of people taking our own cultural agency in a climate where there is little support for this. Comedy is a brilliant tool of transgression and subverting the millennia old myths about disability.
And of course the subject of sex came up - an ongoing shady taboo around disability. We've often been presented as non-sexual and disabled kids didn't get sex education at school as it was assumed it would never be relevant for them. This is recent by the way - not in the 19th century! Sex isn't the sole subject of the evening by the way - it inevitably pops up a few times, on our terms, but as I said before - we're celebrating all of our various complexities and the world we live in. There is sex, food, social media, growing up Northern, online dating, biscuits, carers, gynaecology, social media, being 'blind' drunk, politics, punk and lots and lots of laughs in the storytelling.
We're holding an online sharing of the work of the writing room with 8 disabled women writers and performers - some will shudder at the mention of that last description but hey, there's a first time for everything. It's on zoom on Friday 24 June, 7.00-8.30pm. Bring a drink and some nibbles and enjoy the show. Tickets can be booked on eventbrite by clicking here and are on a pay what you decide basis - which means you just pay what you like after the event.
Introducing the writers:
JulieMc McNamara is an outspoken advocate for Disability-led cultural revolution and an award-winning writer, theatre and documentary filmmaker. Her work is driven by social justice and actively seeks out unheard voices from the political periphery. She is co-founder of the Disability film Festival with Caglar Kimyoncu (1999 - 2007) and co-founder with Isobel Hawson of the Disability-led theatre company Vital Xposure, where she was Artistic Director until 2020. She is also a survivor of Long Covid and currently socializes as a human condom to model spatial integrity and the inclusion of Disabled people in social spaces. She is presenting 'Bursting Your Bubble - When Dreams Turn to Dust'.
Pronouns - She/ Her/ Sir
Honor Flaherty is an aspiring disabled writer from Leicestershire. After a successful career in professional theatre production, she decided it was time to take her writing dreams seriously, so she successfully completed a MA in TV Screenwriting. She has had some moderate successes with published short stories, and co-written a short film called Pop. She was also a co-writer on a feature film called 50 Kisses, which was produced by London Screenwriters Festival. More recently she has completed the Comedy Lab Sketch Writing course with Soho Theatre, as well an array of courses with Little Cog, DANC, Theatre 503 and The Lyric, Belfast. She is currently part of Leicester’s Curve Theatre playwriting scheme. Honor is presenting Biccy-Wiki-Doodah.
Tanya Akrofi is a writer and oral storyteller who has an ongoing fascination with fairytales and folklore. As a workshop facilitator for children and adults, her ambition is to reconnect all of us, with the healing power of oral traditions. Her inspirations range from the Anansi tales of her Ghanaian childhood, to Angela Carter to the local tales of the Lincolnshire countryside. She is a South London Gyal living in Lincoln.
Pronouns - she/her/hers
India Robertson is an artist and storyteller, using various techniques to entertain and sometimes inform. Her goal is to create innovative and comedic work with subtle political undertones to make the audience feel challenged, entertained, and refreshed. She is presenting 'Swipe Right'.
Porcelain Delaney is a Performer/ Writer based in Salford. Whilst working as a performing artist Porcelain grew frustrated at the lack of characters and stories that reflected her and those around her, So she started writing to share lesser told narratives. Porcelain has completed courses with: The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and others. Her first play ‘Breeding Machine’ was longlisted by The Royal Court and awarded Arts Council England funding for development. Her second play ‘Nameless’ debuted in 2021 at DaDa Fest. Her Short story ‘Inspiring’ was longlisted by The Aurora prize for writing. She performed her monologue play ‘Reflection’ on BBC radio. She is presenting an extract from 'Breeding Machine' which is a longer solo show.
Karina Jones is a visually impaired actor, aerialist, belly dancer and vocal coach from Wales. She trained at Liverpool Hope University and The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. She also works as a voice and accent coach, an audio description consultant and is a qualified NLP practitioner. Recent work includes performing in Macbeth at Leeds Playhouse, and Pride and Protest by Kaite O’Reilly for BBC Radio 4. Karina was invited to speak on audio description at the Riga International Circus Conference in Latvia. She was audio description consultant for the Young Vic’s production of The Secretaries. Through Extant Theatre Company’s Directors and Writers Pathway courses, Karina is currently developing her own work due to be showcased soon. A wealth of performance experience Karina has worked with a range of companies including Graeae Theatre Company, Original Theatre Company, Extraordinary Bodies and National Theatre Wales. karina is presenting an extract from her solo show in development 'Blind Drunk'.
Lynne is an experienced writer, editor and proofreader who gained an MA in Creative Writing from The Open University. She has a long history in the publishing industry but now works in a freelance capacity as a writer. She will be reading her piece My Roots are Showing about growing up Northern, talking about her mam and dad and her.
Vici Wreford-Sinnott was recently commissioned by the BBC to write and direct Hen Night, which is still available to watch on BBC iPlayer. She is passionate about creating new disabled protagonists and recent work includes the radio drama The UnSung with co-creators Mandy Colleran, Cheryl Martin, Caroline Parker and Jacqueline Phillips. She produced a number of lockdown productions including Funny Peculiar starring Liz Carr (BBC Silent Witness), Mandy Colleran and Bea Webster. She was commissioned by Spare Tyre to create A Site of Suitable Scale and continues to explore safe, accessible models of practice for the Covid-era for disabled practitioners. Her alter-ego, Raquelle Squelch, hosted the DIY Cabaret at ARC Stockton for Disconsortia, but she currently resting in some binbag dust at the back of the wardrobe. Vici is presenting her monologue 'Jean's On TikTok'.
Pronouns - she/her