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The Unlimited Festival blog engages with artists, producers and audience at one of the biggest exposures of Disability Arts ever to happen in London. Coinciding with the Paralympic games, the festival runs from 30 August – 9 September, 2012

Gabby Ferro reviews the film 'Breathe'

13 September 2012

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Dance troop on stage wearing costumes made from recycled parts, with brown an a base colour and coloured parts on top creating a ragged effect.

This documentary follows the preparation and the performance of an outdoor circus performance featuring mainly disabled performers. The film builds up to a fantastic spectacle, which involves witnessing, as the Southbank website states “people who cannot walk, but fly”. The performance was a collaboration between people from Dorset and people from Brazil, made up of performers from The Remix and Double Act, and APAE from Brazil, to perform at Cirque Bijou. As a group they were...

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Gabby Ferro reviews Chris Tally Evans’ 'Turning Points'

13 September 2012

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close-up of a boys face against a blurred background of a lane bordered by trees

When you visit Chris Tally Evans’ Turning Points website you get a sense of what inspired him to make the film. You can also watch a few clips that are featured in his artistic film. The film focuses on life-changing events in disabled peoples’ lives. Each story is told accompanied by a thematic set of images. For instance Lynn Street’s story is set when she was a young girl in a school for people with visual impairments. She talks about a visit from a local boys’...

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Gabby Ferro reviews 'Dash Arts: M21'

12 September 2012

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photo of live artist noemi lakmaier being carried down the street by an athlete

This documentary follows street artists in Much Wenlock (home to the founder of the modern Olympic games, Dr William Brookes) exploring what it means to be alive and disabled in the 21st Century. The live art event that took place in May 2012 features a host of personalities. Sean Burn’s section of the film ‘Psychosis Belly’ shows the artist standing on the side of the road with a cluster of spectators as he invents his own take on Olympic events ranging from the depression...

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Nina Muehlemann celebrates the last day of the Unlimited with 'Reasons to be Cheerful'

10 September 2012

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a male and female singers share a mike - next to the slogan 'Oi Oi, We're Back'

The last eleven days, during which the Unlimited Festival happened, were more amazing, exciting, and exhilarating than I could have ever imagined. And, fittingly, they ended with a massive bang. Graeae and the New Wolsey Theatre’s hit musical ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ saw an extremely diverse cast perform a coming-of-age story while playing, with a full band, the greatest hits of Ian Dury and the Blockheads. As we get to our seats in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the cast is...

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Sophie Partridge with some 'spoilers' on Gail Sneddon and Claire Cunningham's 'Ménage à Trois'...

9 September 2012

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A photograph of a woman suspended horizontally on crutches wearing a black evening dress and feather boa.

Begins with intermittent flashes of light. Claire (obviously). Claire with crutches (not exactly a surprise)!  Brilliant graphics.  She climbs like Alice up the furniture.  Her cupboard’s too full and things fall out...  Words float across in an accessible stream as she DIY’s her Ideal Man; man with dog but no beard.  Could have heard a pin drop when she said “her ideal man would… not be disabled". Will people comment: “She just...

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Amardeep Sohi reviews Janice Parker's unsettling 'Private Dancer'

9 September 2012

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photo of a blurred screen with a vague figure of a dancer behind

“Your journey is your own individual journey” states Richard Layzell as the audience congregate to around a large, white, installation, made up of five separate rooms, seated neatly in the level five function room of the Southbank Centre. As the audience move through this space in the hour long promenade piece, the experience is certainly unique.  Directed by Janice Parker, 'Private Dancer' plays with the boundaries between audience and performer, dancer and voyeur,...

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Billed as Candoco Unlimited, Sophie Partridge reviews an evening of new works by Claire Cunningham and Marc Brew

8 September 2012

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a woman in a fluffy body suit and hood seems to talk to people in front of her who are holding crutches at different angles

A game of two halves with the tight rigidity of 'Parallel Lines', versus humour and apparent abandon of Claire Cunningham's '12'.  In Brew’s piece, dancers’ were initially battling against the taut, illuminated lines, which throughout, disentangled from the company and rose to fill the space above.  With my view being restricted in QEH, this was a welcome element of the set design; they literally filled the space, leaving no blanks. As the piece...

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Nina Muehlemann reviews 'The Garden', an outdoor theatre spectacle by Graeae and Strange Fruit

8 September 2012

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photo of a performer high up on a pole against a blue sky

After the fantastic spectacle that was the Paralympic Opening Ceremony, which was speckled with both Shakespearian and punk influences and saw golden wheelchairs flying through the air, I have very high expectations of ‘The Garden’. This short outdoor play is a co-production between the theatre company Graeae and Strange Fruit, a performance company from Australia. It is co-directed by Jenny Sealey, Artistic Director at Graeae, who was also the artistic co-director for the...

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Trish Wheatley heads outside the Royal Festival Hall to join the crowd gathered to watch Joel Simon's Macopolis.

7 September 2012

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People gathered in a pedestrianised area staring up at a projection on a big wall

Evenings at the Southbank Centre are amazing, full of atmosphere and vibrancy. The place has been buzzing with crowds of people as they enjoy the last warmth of summer. As the light fades and night falls a story plays out, projected onto the wall of the Royal Festival Hall, stopping people in their tracks. An enchanting animation, Macropolis, is the story of two toys who are factory rejects because they have acquired impairments in the making process. They escape from the factory, become...

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Obi Chiejina blogs about Sue Austin's 'Creating the Spectacle'

7 September 2012

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Submerged, I Stand Proud, underwater wheelchair image of Sue Austin

Is it a fish? Is it an aquatic bird? Is it Stingray?  No it is choreographer/artist Sue Austin and a self- propelled wheelchair flowing between the two opposing worlds of nature and machine in the video installation ‘Creating the Spectacle!’. Austin, multimedia practitioner, performance/installation artist and Artistic Director of Freewheeling trained as a disabled sea diver with the Camel Dive Club, Sharm El Sheik, Egypt in 2005.  Austin returned to the panoramic...

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Colin Hambrook can't resist the sound of Jez Colborne and the call of the sirens

5 September 2012

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Jez Colborne on stage outside the National Theatre, Southbank

‘I've got the sound of the sirens going around my brain. It's the sound of the sirens, driving me insane!’ I'm on the milk train home, having pushed the boat to watch the irresistible Jez Colborne doing his thang outside the National Theatre on the Southbank. Jez, his backing vocalists and crew of dancers and siren players, created a riveting performance. I saw a pilot of Irresistible first at decibel a year ago, so it was interesting to see how it had moved on. Instead...

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Gary Thomas blogs about his first live Bobby Baker experience - Mad Gyms & Kitchens

5 September 2012

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A woman in a white overall appears to be running on 5 legs.

I sit waiting in anticipation of seeing my first Bobby Baker Show. A sign led us to meet at the ticket office, the guide telling us they're expecting 50 people. We’re going on a 'story tour' of the Southbank Centre first, but I wonder if this is actually part of the show. My thoughts are unfounded as I overhear staff say 'the artist will take them down’. The tour wasn’t really a tour but a brief walk down to The Blue Room, via Bobby Bakers drawings that she...

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Colin Hambrook discusses the audio-described short film of Claire Cunningham's 'Ménage à Trois'

5 September 2012

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A photograph of a woman suspended horizontally on crutches wearing a black evening dress and feather boa.

In my commissioning role of gathering responses to Unlimited @ Southbank the performance that DAO writers have been most enthusiastic about seeing in their communications with me, has been Claire Cunningham's 'Ménage à Trois'. Watching the audio-described version of the 90 second pushmmeplease film on the Space makes you realise how audio-description can be used creatively and dramatically to enhance the filmic art process. Using the beat and tempo of the short film,...

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Obi Chiejina blogs about the performance of Kaite O'Reilly's 'In Water I'm Weightless'

5 September 2012

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five members of the cast of In Water I'm Weightless face the audience on stage against a purple-lit background

Ok. Let’s get the ‘I met a famous person’ moment out of the way.  Nicola Miles Wildin (who played Miranda in the Paralympic Opening Ceremony), sitting to my left during the first performance of ‘In Water I’m Weightless’ at this years Unlimited Festival 2012 at the Southbank Arts Complex.  However there are disadvantages to being this close to a famous person.  Nicola graciously received (or was subjected to depending on your point of view) an...

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Unlimited artist Chris Tally Evans blogs about what it’s like to have his storytelling project and film, Turning Points, as part of the Unlimited Festival at the Southbank Centre

4 September 2012

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photograph of three people sat at a table doing an interview with two people standing behind holding equipment

It’s day one of the Unlimited Festival and I’m on the balcony of the Southbank Centre with London in all its sunshine glory as a backdrop. And I’m surrounded by a gang of teenagers, all thrusting things purposefully towards me. No I’m not being menaced. Far from it. This is a group from Roundhouse in North London doing a summer media course and they’re interviewing me on film and audio simultaneously for their website project. How good is this? What more proof can...

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Unlimited and Beyond: What’s next for disability arts? Amardeep Sohi reflects on a discussion about where Unlimited artists go from here

4 September 2012

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Jez Colborne on stage outside the National Theatre, Southbank

After a successful two-week stint on one of London’s largest platforms, it was only right and natural to broach the topic of life after Unlimited. Jo Verrent brought together a rather large panel consisting of artists, producers and strategic bodies to ask the question teetering on everyone’s mind:  “what’s next?” Artist Jez Colborne kicked off the discussion by stating his desire to become a director, travelling the world and collaborating with new musicians...

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Unlimited: Dive Deep - podcast from Roundhouse Radio

4 September 2012

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a collage with a wavy blue background, the words unlimited dive deep in the centre then four cut-out pictures of people working and having fun

Reporters from Roundhouse Radio caught up with Unlimited artists Dean Rodney (Dean Rodney Singers) Joel Simon (Macropolis) Sophie Woolley and Barnabee (aka Daniel Alun) (Bee Detective) and Chris Tally Evans (Turning Points) and also Jessica from Southbank Centre’s Learning and Participation team. Listen to their podcast Unlimited: Dive Deep or read the transcript. The reporters are: Lula aka Cycle Squid Hani aka Phil the bus driver Tori aka Ocotogirl Brooke aka Dori Sagal aka...

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DAO reader Katie Fraser celebrates how an Unlimited production, In Water I'm Weightless, transforms and challenges her perceptions... about herself

3 September 2012

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a photograph of a woman smiling looking at the camera and holding up a filled champagne glass

This wonderfully written piece by Kaite O'Reilly challenges society's preconceptions about disability. It is a joy to watch from the very beginning and it transforms thinking right from the start when the actors  Nick Phillips , Dave Toole , Karina Jones,  Sophie Stone, and the very lovely Mat Fraser (my friend!), sadly minus Mandy Collleran  because of injury, come bounding on to the Purcell Room stage. Taking my seat right near the stage, I got a really good view. And...

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Jez Colborne from Mind the Gap shares a few soundbites in response to the Dean Rodney Singers installation on level four of the Royal Festival Hall

3 September 2012

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a man stands facing the camera doing peace signs with both hands

The lift sings you onto the fourth floor of the Royal Festival Hall. After being invited into Dean Rodney's world you go through a series of installations. It's all very spacey, with a wonderful futuristic feel to it. There's a lot of cool stuff with a lot of light and shade. It takes you into another world where you can find both heaven and hell represented at one and the same time. The graphics and the lighting are incredible; the way they change and the fact you can interact with it. The...

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Nicole Fordham Hodges blogs about Kaite O'Reilly's Writing Workshop: You Say Inclusive, I Say Subversive

3 September 2012

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Colour photograph of Kate O'Reilly

I am a poet with a very undramatic disability. I go along to this performance writing workshop slightly nervous. Like gleeful energetic birds picking apart an old carcass, we get stuck into dissecting hackneyed representations of disabled people. We trace stereotypes through the primeval forest of fairy-tales, find hunchbacked villains with the marks of evil, find sexless mermaids floating in heavenly bubbles, discuss their sex lives. And the Superhuman disabled person with extraordinary...

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Deborah Caulfield on Liberty's Tenth Anniversary Cabaret

3 September 2012

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This show was a startling mix of mildly amusing silliness, overly loud but otherwise quite pleasant singing (sound technicians please note) with occasions of utter brilliance, punctuated by moments (too many) of thumb twiddling dreariness, when absolutely nothing happened and one was forced either to stare longingly at an activity-free stage, or seek alternative entertainment elsewhere. Talk about talk amongst yourselves. Is it too much to expect gaps between acts to be filled by someone...

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Colin Hambrook reviews Kaite O'Reilly's 'In Water I'm Weightless'

2 September 2012

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five members of the cast of In Water I'm Weightless face the audience on stage against a purple-lit background

I was really looking forward to seeing 'In Water I'm Weightless' and certainly wasn't disappointed. The writing and the staging were beautiful. Tom Wentworth summed up the punky gutsiness of the show in a review of the show at the Cardiff Millennium Centre published on DAO four weeks ago. From the opening moments as the six glowing spheres which hang above the stage fade and the performers come into focus we are confronted by the fact that impairment is an inevitable part of...

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Nina Muehlemann reviews Fittings Multimedia Arts' 'The Ugly Spirit'

2 September 2012

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a drawing and photo montage of two babies in an old-fashioned pram

We expect promenade theatre, a backstage tour through the 'secret spaces of the Queen Elizabeth Hall', but instead there is a party going on. It is someone’s birthday, so say the balloons, and performance artist David Hoyle, dressed in flowers, a flappy hat and high heels, hands out bubbly and strawberries as he welcomes the guests, which we are, apparently. He grins at us, but in a slightly discomforting way, saying: ‘Oh, lovely to have you here… Does anyone know...

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Deborah Caulfield reviews Throw Them up and Let Them Sing

2 September 2012

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Sign outside the room where the film  is showing

Tucked away in  little room at the far end of the Festival of the World Museum, this film, by artist filmmaker Helen Petts, explores the later years of Kurt Schwitters’ life and work, following the German artist’s journey to Ambleside in the Lake District where Schwitters escaped Nazi persecution because of his ‘degenerate’ arts and his epilepsy. With no commentary and no subtitles, no words whatsoever, this beautiful film is a collage in pictures and sound. Scenes...

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