This site now acts as an archive only. For the latest news, opinion, blogs and listings on disability arts and culture visit

Disability Arts Online

> > Dolly Sen

Dolly Sen is a writer, director, artist, filmmaker, poet, performer, playwright, mental health consultant, music-maker and public speaker. She has 8 published books since 2002; has taken on performance roles at The Young Vic, the Royal Festival Hall, and around Europe; undertaken a poetry tour; won a poetry award from Poet Laureate Andrew Motion; directed two plays and several TV films; and performed spoken word at City Hall and Oxford University.

The Existential Circus

29 September 2015


Existential Circus

Although I am part of Mad Pride in response to the shaming by the sanatised, I do sometimes feel that madness is a terrible impersonator of the self. I think there is something to the fact that sometimes the self needs to be played badly, an existential tribute act, in order to maintain dignity. One problem is being ridiculed for not surrendering the dignity.  One tragedy is that the self and its inadequate impersonation are both unpleasant acts on a mediocre bill. I am not talking about...

Comments: 0

Some questions for my readers

28 September 2015


Hello readers, hope you are all doing ok. Next year I am going to be moving out of London to somewhere quieter. I have decided not to work in the mental health system any more, and am toying with the idea of making my art a private pursuit rather than a public one. I haven't had much luck with getting grants for my art, it is all self-funded and shared openly, but I do need pay the bills, etc. So I want to know what do you get out of my art or blog to see if it is a thing I should keep...

Comments: 5

What Comfort Zone?

18 September 2015


Comfort Zone

I created this collage recently in response to the idea of comfort zones.  Part of mental health recovery rhetoric is being told by some psychiatric professionals we need to step out of our comfort zones. What comfort zones? Comfort zones are a middle class idea for people who haven't been brutualised, abused, humiliated, or deeply hurt in life. I have no comfort zones. My hell might have cushions but it is still hell. I have a memory foam mattress on top of my bed of nails. My dreams...

Comments: 1

Shame on the mental health system

15 September 2015


Prescription of Shame

Human beings are such strange creatures. I think sometimes some academics and mental health professionals alienate the experience they study by labels, words and concepts, and get angry when the people they work with or study don't 'engage' or yield to their so-called expertise. I have done a couple of workshops on shame recently to try and get people to feel it instead of intellectualise it. Mad people are at the brunt of constant shaming by society, family, media, systems, etc,...

Comments: 1

what would you prescribe yourself?

8 September 2015


Prescription art template

I ran a creative workshop yesterday at the wonderful Dragon Cafe inspired by Prescription of Stars poem. Here is what I said to people: "Fed up of being prescribed tablets? Here is a chance, using whatever creative method you wish, to take over an A4 prescription-style template to prescribe yourself what you think will heal your wounds." The answers were interesting and sometimes poignant. The most popular answers were hugs, massages and good friendships. One person said...

Comments: 0