Special – R&D

A Different Way is a ‘show and tell’ project connecting Theatre for Young Audiences with Disabled audiences and artists. It’s about putting the voices of young people at the heart of the creative process and supporting the growth of inclusive theatre for young people.

Following the ideology of ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’, it aims to build knowledge of how to create work with, not for, young Disabled people. A Different Way will see us research and develop 3 new shows for different age groups, delving into the nuances of access and inclusion in meaningful and entertaining ways.

So back at the start of May 2019 Daryl joined the team at Solar Youth Theatre, a specialist group of Disabled teenagers at Half Moon Theatre. We spent the whole term with them as a way to begin to explore one of our R&D’s, “Special”   a show idea for aged 14+ that explores ‘language and terminology’ and its use within different generations of Disabled people.

 

The Idea for the show:
The idea for this show has grown from many years of debates, not just in the use of terminology around disability but from the many years of working with young people. People talk about terminology as its “PC gone mad” but the language we use when talking about Disability is as important as the language we use when talk about identity more widely, but it is never addressed head on in a creative way.

People don’t want to use certain words because they not want to offend, they don’t want to say the wrong thing. But if we don’t open up the debate, say the wrong thing, put the words out there on a platform, then how can the discussions and our understanding of how we talk about Disability ever evolve?

The idea is to create a show that places the voices of young people, through the use of technology, at the centre of the performance where teenage audiences can explore the idea of terminology around disability and its place within contemporary youth culture. How different words are used through different generations, the meaning, reclaiming words and telling stories. It will be a mixture of verbatim theatre meets Vagina Monologues that is unapologetic.

The process:
So this process began with Solar Youth Theatre who were starting work on their new show ‘Moving’ for their end of term performance. The show explored what happens when the rules change and you’re heading to an unknown future, who we are and how our identity is shifted when the places we use to anchor our identify have gone.

Within the wider context of A Different Way our aim was to question how the use of terminology fitted within this and their views, but we soon discovered we were asking the wrong question…

“As always when starting on a creative adventure you start off thinking you know the direction you want to take but as soon as you take that first wheel you end up throwing the map out the window. I went in with a clear idea of the detail I wanted to understand but after a few sessions I realised that the most important discoveries was not the language or terminology or their opinions on certain words but how this group of young Disabled people made choices and how they managed the conflict of different opinions. Working with Solar Youth Theatre opened up a new way of thinking about “Special”, it allowed me to realise the conflict is not in the words we use, or our reactions to those words, but within the process of why and how we choose certain words in the first place.” Daryl Beeton

We had the luxury of working alongside this amazing group of young people and the Half Moon Theatre’s delivery team for 10 weeks. We were able to be involved but also actively observe. We learnt a lot for the young people and the fantastic Half Moon Theatre artists working with them.

 

It generated so many new ideas and thoughts on how our own show “Special” will develop… and this is only the first phase, the first part of our journey because, this autumn we will continue developing “Special” by working with the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich’s youth theatre and schools for young Disabled people in Ipswich to dig deeper into why and how we choose to use the words we do.