Updated: Jul 18, 2019
At Filskit Theatre, we are constantly working to try and make both our work and practice as accessible as possible. This year we were delighted to be able to make a brand new show called 'The Artist', a multi-sensory performance for young autistic people aged 7+. This piece was created with Flow Observatorium and a collection of Neurodivergent (ND) artists.
We knew we wanted to work collaboratively, where we would oversee and curate the process but where the work for young ND audiences would actually be created by ND artists. We knew we wanted this to be more than just paying lip service - it was essential that these artists were integral to the work and were treated professionally, as opposed to feeling marginalised or like a cynical, diversity box-ticking exercise...
Our original call out was aimed at creatives who consider themselves to be Neurodivergent (including but not limited to Autism, ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia, Tourette's, Bipolar, Schizophrenia and PTSD). We wished to make the entire process as flexible as possible, from the original application and interview stages to the creation of the work itself. We wished to establish conditions where our visual artists, composers, designer and performer felt they could create (as we've come to learn that there are many barriers along the way that can prevent this). And we are so happy with the final result - an interactive art gallery created with overhead and floor projection as well as a safe space where children could help us 'paint' the gallery.
We were keen to ask one of our fantastic ND team to blog from their point of view of how they felt the process went. We asked Amanda Cox to do the honours from the perspective of one of the wonderful Visual Artists we worked with. Amanda has ADHD, is autistic and exclusively worked remotely during the entire process of 'The Artist'. Here is what Amanda had to say:
The Artist - A Blog By Visual Artist, Amanda Cox
I was thrilled to be invited to be part of this project as a contributing artist. The initial idea of including neurodivergent creatives from many disciplines in a stage show for autistic children really thrilled me and warmed my heart, insofar as it had the intention of bringing the autistic, ADHD, dyslexic and other interesting people together and uniting the community that has often been overlooked. The process of submitting work was made clear and understandable, the interview at the beginning was stress free and the option of communicating on Skype on flexible hours was really reassuring for me as I find travelling and meeting people quite distressing.
The to-and-fro of emails and messages was reassuring and gave me great context to work with, a written brief that was clear yet flexible was an excellent pivot for creativity, and the moment when I saw my images in the rehearsal and final production was absolutely incredible.
I was dealt with in a very professional and respectful way and I really enjoyed the whole experience of working with Filskit Theatre, and I am glad the audience enjoyed the show and felt joyful and free.
This is absolutely a step in the right direction for including neurodiverse actors, directors, artists, musicians and dancers in theatre and the arts in general, especially since the public perception of autistics is that they are only suited to science and tech and have no imagination or feelings, and the public perception of ADHD people is that we are incredibly difficult to work with and unreliable.
Thank You Filskit for making me feel worthy and capable of contributing to the cut and thrust world of the arts, I hope I can work with you again soon and everyone should take a leaf out of your book!
Trailer for The Artist. Footage and photos of the show courtesy of Dark Skies Productions
The Artist has been created by Filskit Theatre in collaboration with Flow Observatorium and a collection of neurodivergent (ND) Artists and supported using public funding by Arts Council England
Visual Artists: Curtis Reece, Amanda Cox, Kate Radford, Molly Hawkins, Stevie Williams & Jon Adams
Sound Designers/Composers: Joe Edwards, Holly Kahn, Ben Lunn & Lou Barnell
Set & Costume Designer: Daniel Bendelman
Online Content Creator: Olivia Sullivan
Performer: Saskia Lupin
Flow Observatorium support: Jon Adams
Video soundtrack: Joe Edwards