To top off an already magical trip, it seems appropriate that my last hours are spent with Julian Boal at the Centre of Theatre of The Oppressed. My guess is it might not mean much to some but you wouldn’t believe what it means to me. Brazil is the place where Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal were born.
It is the place where they both developed theories and practices which have influenced global policies, transformed education and liberated oppressed people and communities. On a personal level they helped me transform the way i practice my work around Disability Equality and indeed performance. Boal referred to Freire as his grandad creating liberation pedagogy, Pedogogy of the Oppressed.
Boal then took this into the theatre context (after being imprisoned and tortured that is) to use theatre to empower people to change and transform their own lives developing Theatre of The Oppressed, Forum Theatre and Legislative Theatre to name but a few. Now Julian carries on his work.
So here i am at CTO in Rio (there are CTOs around the world, but I guess this is home) and within ten minutes of chatting Ive been invited to a meeting happening at the CTO of “famous community and Favela leaders” as Julian put it, who find there communities being brushed away in time for the world cup and Olympics.
They are expecting 180 to turn up and I’m gutted I’ll be at the airport. We chatted about “legacy” in London and questioning the impact on disability and my experience of travel during and after the games have gone. I cant believe Julian wanted me to speak at the meeting.
These communities are being broken up and are already experiencing being forced into pacification and forced medicalisation “treatment” programmes. The meeting will brjng leaders together to have a unified voice around whats happening to them and no doubt tensions will be high as indigenous communities are literally being torn apart and the poor and homeless are being pushed out further all in order to create the perfect tourist picture.
We chat further about the olympics, legacy and disability and agreed translating “don’t believe all the hype” might be tricky. Julian asks about me, the show, note to self…send dvd!
I was trying to explain to Ginge and Dave the significance of this building and its so hidden and doesn’t bear any sign of its global significance, its shabby n simple but full if lovely friendly people working hard for others. the vatican could learn a thing or two about toning down its grand buildings and distributing its wealth.
Google Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal, two amazing people. I was lucky enough to learn about Freire from Roz Norton whilst at Goldsmiths and I got to spend some time being around and learning directly from Augusto Boal about ten years ago. And now to spend a short time at cto in Rio with Julian is just an amazing moment in my time here and in my life.
Right sausages, on the plane.
Update sausages: 13.55 just landed safe at Heathrow. See you in Leatherhead sausages.
On the beach on our final day off and it all feels a bit of a dream. The body beautiful is strongly evident but i sit comfortably in my mankini home amongst the well tanned skins and rippling muscles and thats just my two pas’s.
The wether has been…hot
Breakfasts been…like a kids party table, lots of cake
The gigs…did we really just do them?
Lapa has been…Camden
The hotel has been…steep ramps, dodgy wifi, simple but fine, waiter like Dick Emery.
Dropped curbs…like ski slopes
The town…vibrant and exciting with a little fiestyness ere and there
The venue…was neither indoors nor outdoors.
The people were…warm n lovely (even Rafael)
The view from my taxi…non existent
The jesus on a hill…was indeed a huge big jesus on a hill, from the back anyway, couldn’t get round the front!
Ipanema was…nearly as beautiful as Ballybunion but beats bally for the sun and budgie-smugglers!
The Hosts…looked after us a delight, were lully and mainly in orange t-shirts
Graeae…is planting seeds
My PA’s …are top banana and after 7m, Joyce & Vickie
Thank you Rio, Peoples Palace Projects, British Council, Graeae and me knew dog Kiyikee!
So sausages, where next on this crazy journey…Leatherhead!
Reality check update…we lost our high court case against the government but now considering an appeal because “we’re not gonna take it” xx
Todays blog is a mish mash of events, a bit like Rio’s architecture which is stunning and shabbily beautiful, Extremes of wealth and poverty living right on top of each other. Our taxi driver indicated this notion by joining two fingers together saying it was a happy co existing side by side with no pretence but I’m not so sure about that, we experience, like anywhere in the world, a darker moment that shouldn’t ever happen to anyone, but it does… still we are stronger for having each other and we carry on stronger together to carry on finding and giving Reasons To Be Cheerful!
We got called early to soundcheck for gig two so we could sort out a couple of teccy issues, after sound check song of choice yesterday being Bob Marleys Stir It Up, today was a straight Blockheads swipe with Spasticus, Blockheads n Hit Me. sound check done, Shenanigans time to get into the right frame of mind.
The audiences have been a surprising mix of ages and once they are over the shock/fear of me sitting next to em screaming “rubbish n boo”, i see the foot tapping, then the hands going and before ya know it our gang has jumped off the stage and is pulling em up to ave a little blue jean bop. Encores all round and even some of the audience get passed the dancing security to join us onstage. It was just beautiful, and gratefully in the heat of it allI capture a brief moment in the anarchy to realise the gig in my heart is for Mr Dury, my folks, loved ones, friends and my beloved Lisa who is hopefully aving a blue jean bop with us up there in the stars xx
Party time was indeed a great party time, the bar owner was indeed happy to host us and it did indeed get messy from what i recall. all though to be honest this little Cockney paddy of yours wasn’t as wild as is sometimes known, on account of being jiggered from doing two gigs and giving it some right marge!
Day off and it was up the hill to see big Jesus! Just lost for words amazing. See the piccys when I get em up!
Last visit is off to Iponema for a little dance rude boy …i need to hear some decent Samba before heading home. That will be once Ginger gets off Mo Farrahs jogging machine n Daves finished his Ruth Rendall!
Apologise for grammaticals n typos this blogs being done on the roof n hoof!
I’ll probably get one more blog in and then its no stopping or resting, its all thoughts Leatherhead next, who’s up for Daisy fest sausages?
It was always going to be a long hard day, but the lovely smiling faces, beautiful sights and a few beers the night before….and a good sleep of course, meant i was right up for it. The venue is a cultural arts centre type place semi inside semi outside so the view from my mic is probably one of the most amazing I’ll ever have.
Oooh its hot, is probably the saying of the day, and after a three hour run through, I’m not gunna lie, my joints were right swollen up n a bit sore. We had a break, then another run, which finished me right off.
The organisers of the festival are just lovely, and bending over backwards to ensure our needs are being met so we had rooms to lay in, sit in, eat in…and anything else you’d like in! So green room and bags of ice were the order of our few hours off. I did feel a bit on the wonk for a while but the rest worked is magic and it was soon time for the cherry reds to pop out the bag.
Our show runs at about an hour, part gig, part play n lotsa a sweat! It was full on and although the crowd seemed a mile away from the stage, slowly they ‘ad it and by the end were right up on us and bopping the same as ‘ackney, Nottingham or anywhere else we’ve taken this dream job too. The band & gang rocked ‘em. I feel theres a little room to raise it a bit more but all in all it was a beautiful game as they say.
A few autographs later, apparently one lad recognised me off his Brazilian telly, which was a bit weird!? Scorchio! Back in the taxi (not alone) the drivers are very excited to point out the huge football stadiums tat we pass. From my view i just see the tops of these huge flying saucer like buildings. Rhinestone Cowboy was song of the moment on our return.
The bars in Lapa district are kicking, access is a bit ropey here and there but do-able with a bita force and with a cod one at the end of the journey its all worth the effort.
Daisy Fest not to far away now! Gigs Rio to Leatherhead is definitely rock n roll…..in a way?!
We are truly living another dream here. Got to bed at 4am and then back up at 5am. I’m loving brazil. Our festival is creating a bit of a buzz here in rio just been to the venue to have a nose and for the band to do a line check and its a weird and wonderful place. I can see the mountains from my mic stand. Its a semi outdoor venue with a huge powerful rig so reckon rockin rio could be a real possibility. A first on this tour for me is sleeping in a mosquito net which is a laugh getting into. currently im in the taxi and about 5 minutes ago i was kinda kidnapped by the lovely Rafael, me cab driver, leaving ginge n peter noone standing on the corner of the street with the rest of the band. After 5 minutes i finally found the right translation to say we needed to go back to pick up the others, that took a good few miles. Meanwhile back at the venue there was a slight panic about where me and me new mate Rafael had gone off to. Ginger by now was with one of the team ringing the production team and says can you ring the taxi company to tell em they have driven off with John Kelly.
Brazil is a flippin great country and I cant believe I’m here to give it marge! Food
N beer down some of the side streets are as … well i guess, cheap as chips me Pe Diums are going well lets put it that way.
Not seeing a lot from me taxi as we travel from hotel to venue as the roof is at eyeline height but the samba groove is enough to remind me this is a very special time. So sausages, off to see Mats show tonight then a pre show party. Tomorrow 8am hotel lobby spinal tap moment n first gig in Rio at 7.30 which apparently is commonly understood as some time after that! I’ll be ready.
Oi oi sausages.
Well it seems Reasons lives on! I am writing this blog at around 30,000 feet heading towards Brazil where we are taking a little bita Dury charm n swagger to share with the lovely people of Rio, and probably other nations too as its all a bit of an international love-in to continue the ole olympic n Paralympic ding dong moving from Stratford to ere!
I cant actually believe I’m doing this, even me spell checker doesn’t believe it as it is trying to change the destination of me next gig from Rio to Bio, wherever that is.
As acdc once said sausages…its a long way to the top if ya wanna rock n roll… as Ian Dury says…Dance Little Rude Boy! I am totally humbled and excited to be singing in Rio, thanks to MertonCIL, Go4M, the Daisy Festival Team and me girlfriend for letting me out of the country and to BA and The Graeae gang for getting me outa the country! Very excited up ere I am!
Lets Ave It #ReasonsinRio stylie sausages!
Yep, its been a long time. Thats been more to do with loads on and not being sure about how to right about it or I’m still trying to unpack it in my head! Thats what I kinda do, cause life seems to be flying by s fast, is that a sign of age?
So sound bites would include before Christmas singing with the lully Blockheads, my playlab with Graeae, Reasons mash up at The Clore Ballroom QEH, then heading to Co. Down for Christmas. Whilst out there I got a proposal in to do a little music writing for a project with drake music, and the good news is I was successfully accepted, so as I write this, writing a new tune is heavy on my mind.
Since getting back I’ve been covering the chair of MertonCIL and our lully manager as gone on maternity leave (just given birth to a lovely baby boy, hooray), so thats keeping any non work free time full! Done a few little gigs and the above picture comes from last weeks lully corporate bash with Reasons at Cargos in London.
I’ve delivered a fair bit of Disability Equality Training including with a really exciting project Unfinished Histories who are documenting and exhibiting alternative theatre from 1968 to 88. The interviews are with originators of a number of company’s including Nabil Shaban and Graeae. The exhibition will tour sometime in late summer and the website is a really useful resource of alternative Theatre, so I’m really pleased to be a part of this exciting project. It is this Disability Equality Session that has motivated me to write this blog, let me explain:
1966 to 88 was a key time in disability discourse, The independent Living movement, The Social model re-defining disability, disabled people becoming politicised, becoming activists (including myself) and catalysts for change toward independence and freedom, Ian Dury ( of course!), Graeae and disabled people led movements and the fight towards legislation to recognise disability as discrimination and an issue of rights and not a medical one! So big times.
I’ve wanted to write fir ages about the current discourse around disability, cut backs, benefit changes, attacks on independent living and its all so big its been a block to me writing about it. mainly because it goes so much against all I believe in and in particular how I see disability being portrayed. lots of people feel we are going back 30 years, which is an irony after the paras seemed to take us so much further forward in peoples attitudes.
Theres been some scary programmes about work (panorama) and this week about benefit changes (dispatches) all made me feel really uncomfortable about the issues being covered but even more by the underlying attitudes that are creating assumptions about value and worth and missing the point that disabled people are active contributors, proud, striving for independence and equality and the right to live an active life.
That message is very different from the scrounging, cheating, draining, costly, justifying what your unable to do or need type stuff that just chokes my writing because it aint what I am or do, portrayed or in the under current of discussion. Lol i can feel my grammar clam up as I try to get it out!
Lets put t this way, today I really feel my only response is to gig more ad get Reasons on a stage soon cause thats where we need to be at, proud, loud, a bit naughty here and there, included, anarchic, sexy and fun! But i understand many of my brothers and sisters in this fight (disabled and non-disabled) don’t feel this in the current discourse, more the reason why we need to!
This week a new campaign I’m involved in got some coverage in The guardian…watch out #BecauseWeAreWorthIt. Trying to raise awareness of the impact that loosing the ILF will have on many disabled people. This debate is not one about benefits, the ILF is money to pay for direct support to live independent lives. So the money goes to the person to control but is spent on the support required to employ and pay our PAs or support workers. Esther Mcvey is our minister and yet so far I haven’t heard her once come from our perspective, get out!
So the accumulative effect of current discourse as meant on blogosphere I’m keeping my head down, getting on with the fight, and not sure how to write stuff for fear i become angry about it all, such a wasted energy when we’ve got so many lovey things we could all be doing together. Still I’m up for it and will continue to try and explain myself blogging here and there, possibly under sedation!
Lets ave it sausages xx