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A Mental Health Aesthetic in Disability Theatre

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March 2016

It has been such a privilege to rekindle my body of work with the support of the team at ARC. Annabel Turpin has always been so open to providing space and platforms for theatre-makers developing work which is contemporary, is challenging in form or content and work which explores the relationship between audience and theatre practice.

Butterfly is a one woman contemporary performance piece which aims to recognise the historical trail of stigma attached to mental health problems, and more widely to disabled people and to anyone regarded as ‘other’. However, Beatrice, our main protagonist, had hoped that she wouldn’t be here, tonight, in this place. Under the microscope. The worst thing we could do really was put her centre-stage. She just wants a quiet life, but given the treatment of disabled people, including people with mental health problems, her hand is forced.

Beatrice is faced with the options of staying under the radar or becoming a ‘Reclaimer’ in an increasingly hostile state. With the help of Butterfly and Boudica, and an experimentation with form, Beatrice travels between both big and little history, and is forced to make some difficult decisions. Elizabeth, as ever, stays behind her blinds and half drawn curtains.

Butterfly explores how we, as a society and as a culture, continue to accept and perpetuate the weighty baggage of stereotypes, medicalisation and myths as facts. So great and powerful are the traditions of the cultural canon, that anyone outside it, anyone not represented by it, anyone who has not had their voices and stories heard by it, must continue to challenge it and fight to be included in the cultural landscape.

I am committed to disability equality in cultural contexts and I am currently exploring the connection between work made in a mental health context and its aesthetic relationship to the social model of disability, or models which locate the disabling factors in a person's life outside of the individual, and its position within the broader body of Disability Arts. I am fascinated with the representation of disability in the classical cannon and challenging our accepted narratives around disabled people and their value/place. My work explores the colonisation of identity and its reclamation.

You can see a trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpPYsne-wzU

A review of the show from the Northern Echo

Lovely blog piece on Express North
 

Some comments on Vici’s work:

"A powerful, dark, funny one woman drama exploring how we treat human beings in the 21st Century" Express North - Inspiring Women to Celebrate

“Intense, innovative and thought provoking, cleverly written and skilfully executed” The Art of Not Getting Lost, Shout North East

“Compelling theatre – I was completely drawn into the world they created” The Art of Not Getting Lost, Audience

“This show would not be out of place on a London stage, and if it were, it would shine” Audience Member, ARC Stockton

“Vici Wreford Sinnott is an accomplished writer and knows her craft” Disability Arts Online