Yesterday, me and the team went to visit the Nottingham Playhouse to see “A Double Bill: I Come From & Platform Midlands Airways“. We were invited by a few people that we work with who were taking part, and the tickets were £2.00 each, so we picked up a handful and went on down.
The play was produced by two groups, Space to Create & Playhouse Platform.
Space to Create is a group that works on improving access to “visual arts” and Playhouse Platform is an 8-week course for Autistic and Learning Disabled people to express themselves and to put on a play at the end of the course.
Now honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect out of this, I was just happy to go down and be audience support for people we know, but after last night I would certainly go to future performances without knowing participants.
The first of the double bill was called “I Come From”. It was a series of poems, some simply verbal, some more visual with puppets and projections on a screen above the stage. Actors who couldn’t read well, or remember lines, had an understudy who supported them by reading to them for them to repeat. The poetry, although not long or complicated, was important. To hear how disabled people are affected by others’ words and actions, how they struggle in employment and how they quantify what is important in their lives.
I don’t think we give enough time to hearing others’ lived experiences, especially when our own can be so difficult or full of barriers.
The second part of the evening was a comedy called “Platform Midlands Airways”, and it worked out amazingly. A short “mockumentary” about the ground crew at “Platform Midlands Airway” and how terrible they are at their jobs. There were escaping pets, drunk passengers, and that awful moment you have to get your luggage weight down at check-in! I think my favourite part was when a woman in a wheelchair landed a plane with glowsticks! The BSL Interpreter was excellent (I used to be one so I can make an assessment on that) and integrated into the show without feeling like an afterthought plonked on the edge of the stage.
Overall, I think we need to see more projects and performances like this. The whole thing from start to finish was less than an hour which is great for audience members who struggle to focus or sit for long periods of time. It’s giving disabled people an outlet and a sense of community they might not get elsewhere, and it’s giving us, as either non-disabled people or people of different disabilities, an insight we might not get elsewhere.
I hope we’ll get to see another performance from the team in the not too distant future.