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Stephen Merchant Live at Hammersmith Apollo (Review)

For those of you who've been offended by someone recently who I'll just simply refuse to name, his comedy writing partner, Stephen Merchant, seems to be a bit different.

A friend had tickets to see Stephen Merchant at Hammersmith Apollo, London, and I went, with slight trepidation. Was he going to be as offensive as Ricky Gervais? (Damn, OK, I had to mention him) Was I going to sit there & cringe most of the way through? Was I? 

Well, no, as it turned out, I didn't at all. Stephen Merchant's stand up doesn't rely on making fun & crude remarks about the worst affected in society. Merchant picks arguably the most difficult subject: himself.

As he does so, the show, part autobiography, part exaggeration (I'm assuming!) follows some of his journey from his first awkward moments of fame (He's 6ft 7in tall, after all) to the even more awkward moments of dating and finding love.

And back to an even more awkward moment re-enacting one of the first plays he ever got performed in High school. The show worked well, and while some may find it offensive 'just because', I had a good time.  

Stephen Merchant is on tour till 12th December

Posted by Gary Thomas, 1 December 2011

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 1 December 2011

Embracing 'Interference'

I've recently subscribed to Chris Brogan's blog posts email, which contains useful information and suggestions on what to write about. The recent email is all about confidence, and suggests writing a post on where I'm headed, so here it is.

Er.... Who knows? Really, I mean I think about where I'm heading a lot, and as much as I like having plans, things conspire to interfere. Now, sometimes what happens when 'things' interfere with plans is WAY more interesting than the original plan. And that's what interests me the most. There are some things that have happened that I could never really have planned. I think you just need to be prepared for those moments.

A good example is my recent success with Arts Council. I applied for Research and Development funding for The Queen and My Little Doggy, and was successful. (Yay!)

So over the next few weeks, along with everything else I want to do, there will be a period of very intense work on my split screen installation film, which will form the basis of a major piece of work that will be completed by very early next year.

Will anything happen to interfere with that work? Of course it will. Already two people who I want to work with are unavailable, so that means working with others, but that's just given me time to remember the others. So I have lots of choices to make, and need to find people who I want to collaborate with based on who they are and what they can do.

So with that in mind, the next month or so will be really interesting, I'll be doing things that I've never done before (again) and working with some new people too. All very exciting, really.

Posted by Gary Thomas, 14 March 2011

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 15 March 2011

Gary Thomas on what we can learn from 'everyone else'

I've been talking to a couple of people recently about ambitions. Okay, mainly my ambitions, but certainly ambitions.

You see, I want to aim quite high, so at a recent arts meeting in London (more to be revealed eventually!) I stated in a sort of unsure voice in a room full of disabled artists - “I want to be mainstream”.

And then, after a pause: “I want to be nominated for the Turner Prize.” Yep. That's what I said. And now I've written it down. Shit me. Silly isn't it?

Well, nope, not really. Definitely not silly. You see, I'm an artist and filmmaker, and albeit I didn't go to Central St. Martins or where ever most artists go to study, I've had funding from the Arts Council, I've been commissioned, I've had a short film bought by a distributor in LA.

So why shouldn't we look at our work and say 'I want to win...' whatever it is that will take your career to the next level?

But where on earth do I get these notions from?

One such influence is Chris Jones,  and his filmmaking course which I have just started taking this weekend. 

Chris set out to make a short film and said, in a rather public way: “I want to win an Oscar.” He asked people for money, got the money, and made a film that reached the final round of voting in the Oscars, just before they chose the actual nominations. They missed out on an Oscar, but the got very very close, and made a good film because of it. Which got people's attention. And although Chris is a 'mainstream' filmmaker (I'm assuming that) there's a lot we can learn from everyone who put themselves out there.

They documented the process & they've now put it online with interviews, clips, and everything you need to look at your filmmaking journey.

I'm on section 3 of the course at the moment, and already there's been some valuable insights into where I am, and what to do next. Some of which has reconfirmed what I already know, others have been first time insights. And when I get to the next stage of the course, there will be more. If the film-making journey is something you'd like to learn more about, I'd definitely recommend taking the course yourself.

In a short while, I'm going to be blatantly asking people for money. I need to think about how I do this seriously, how can I do it with the right support from people etc, and how I can do it legally too. I want to make a major work set a couple of days after the 2012 London Olympics.

It's not something I can do on a low budget, so will be needing all the support from people and companies that I can convince. Although it's a 'short split screen film' it'll be a major work... So who's with me?

Posted by Gary Thomas, 13 February 2011

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 13 February 2011