Tom Skelton 2020 Visions (What if I hadn’t gone blind?)

Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes means to completely put yourself in a different point of view. To imagine a life adjacent from your own and understand how it could be seen through another’s eyes. But what if that person only has 5% vision? Enter: Tom Skelton.

Tom Skelton: 2020 Visions (What if I hadn’t gone blind?) is an insightful, hilarious, and at times sombre narrative of one man’s journey. As a VIP (Visually Impaired Person), Skelton puts the audience in his shoes, taking them on a 10 year journey in just under an hour. 2020 Visions begins with a prelude to the tale ahead, providing some minor details and encouraging the audience to laugh at the jokes being made at his expense (after all it is a comedy). Skelton then takes us from his initial diagnosis to where he is today.

The years are filled with challenges, romance, growth, and laughter. But he weaves in and out of this reality with an alternate one. A reality where he is not a VIP but a person with 2020 vision. Skelton creates a brilliant contrast as he navigates between the two and dissects his own “What if?”

In the real world he is learning strategies to better handle day-to-day tasks (such as making cups of coffee). But in the alternate he has successfully eliminated the energy crisis, obesity, and climate change in America by implementing one simple machine in every home. While he is searching for love in one, he was having a publicised romance with Taylor Swift in the other. Skelton can show you the hard realities one minute and having you laugh the next at his alternate life fantasy.

This unique perspective is one that sticks and ultimately poses an interesting question to Skelton where he asks himself what reality he wishes to inhabit. Tom Skelton: 2020 Visions (What if I hadn’t gone blind?) is an expertly crafted narrative and is a show that one takes pleasure in being in the seat for.

5 stars


Words by Isaac Freeman

Tom Skelton: 2020 Vision (What if I hadn’t gone Blind?) is showing until March 14

For more information and to purchase tickets click here

 

Singin’ in the Pain: A Disability and Chronic Illness Cabaret

Attending a show with ‘Disability and Chronic Illness Cabaret’ in the title, I was ready to experience something remarkably different from the staple Fringe offerings; however, nothing could have prepared me for the unstoppable train of emotions that was Singin’ in the Pain.

Singin’ in the Pain empowered women of all abilities, restrictions and restraints, shapes and sizes to show what they are made of. These self-coined disabilibabes and chronic cuties were not simply performing for the sake of performing, but providing an honest rendition of the struggles they face day-to-day.

Set centre stage of the bar-theatre hybrid that is the Nexus Arts Venue, this stunning display of passionate story-telling simply blew my mind. Presented by Diana Divine, cabaret producer, teacher, and performer and teacher at Hot Sauce Burlesque, the show was a sexy and empowering display of physical and emotional human strength.

Full of impressive and award-winning entertainers, the show was a devastatingly and hauntingly beautiful homage to the pure resilience of humans living with disabilities and chronic pain.

I experienced hair-raising vocals, racy costumes, seductive booty bumping, and acts ending with tantalising tassels. Every single movement was meaningful and came straight from a place of raw vulnerability. Get ready to leak from both eyes at this intimate peak at the lives of so many inspiring humans.

The show was accessible to people of varying abilities, and the session I attended was Auslan interpreted as well as a Relaxed Performance – a welcoming, sensory-reduced environment for patrons with a learning disability, and/or sensory and communication difficulties.

I would recommend this show to absolutely everyone over the age of 18. I will forever be in awe of the glittering beauty and strength that every single performer displayed on that stage, dazzling the audience one act at a time. I give this show five, well-earned stars, because it was a sensational experience that I would see again and again.

5 stars


Words by Sarah Ingham

Singin’ in the Pain’s season has ended

To find out more about disability cabaret click here

Floral Peroxide

Alison Paradoxx Presents Floral Peroxide was my favourite Fringe show of 2019. It is intense, captivating narrative, eye appealing costume design and heart pounding techno-style music by 5000AD made this an unforgettable experience. Floral Peroxide has once again returned to the Fringe for 2020 with some changes made to the performance. I attended the opening night on February 16, keen to see how these changes have changed the performance. Like 2019, Floral Peroxide is one of the must-see Fringe shows.

Floral Peroxide is a deeply personal story of poet and performer Alison Paradoxx’s struggles with her numerous disabilities throughout her life. The narrative speaks of the societal desire to “fix” the broken self and the paradoxes of disability. This is portrayed through spoken word poetry, interpretative dance and stunning voice-over visuals.

One of the main changes to Floral Peroxide from last year is the venue. This year, it is being held inside the Nexus Arts Centre, in comparison to the outdoor setting of Libertine by Louis. This change to an interior venue enhanced the audio and lighting experience. I could feel the beating of the heart beats deeper within my chest and the ear shrieking sound of flatline more so than last year.

The revamped performance brought more life and awe to Floral Peroxide. Alison’s dance in the beginning, as she crawls to the wheelchair, while her story was told on screen was more impactful during this performance. Her addition of a scene detailing some of the potential side-effects of her medication made me uncertain if I should laugh or be horrified. Same can be said when Alison speaks of “men in business suits” who try to define one with a disability. It is confronting to hear, yet, I couldn’t help but laugh when she mentioned these had the scent of a particular aftershave. It adds humour to an otherwise terrifying reality.

Some minor changes were made to the costumes which helped enhance Alison’s performance further through their confronting, yet beautiful designs. One of the greatest changes to the costume is Alison’s hair, which is red this year rather than blue. There was beautiful contrast with her hair and the white dress worn in the final scene.

Like last year, I am struggling for words to further describe Floral Peroxide. It is such a powerful and confronting experience which I cannot find the right words for. For someone with a disability myself, this show is so empowering and speaks to me in a way few Fringe shows in the past have. I guess this is down to the main takeaway of the show: to not let outdated societal norms define you.

Alison Paradoxx Presents Floral Peroxide is unlike other Fringe shows I have seen over the years. This is a beautifully crafted performance from start to finish. It is shows like this which is a reason why the Fringe is such an important event for South Australian artists. This is one show that you cannot afford to miss.

Copies of Alison’s poetry book Subtitled Radiology and the Spitting Teeth anthology are available to buy for $7 and $20 respectively too. For more information on Alison Paradoxx, you can read our 2019 feature here.

5 / 5 stars


Words by Cameron Lowe

Floral Peroxide will be shown again on February 25 and March 11

For more information and to purchase tickets please click here.

#MeToo: Stories from the Australian movement

#MeToo: Stories from the Australian movement

Edited by Natalie Kon-yu, Christie Nieman, Maggie Scott and Miriam Sved
Picador Australia


In the wake of the #MeToo movement in 2017, editors Natalie Kon-yu, Christie Nieman, Maggie Scott and Miriam Sved have pulled together a collection of poetry, fiction and essays placing issues of sexual violence and harassment in an Australian context. This incredibly timely and hard-hitting collection is a must-read for Australians of every sex and gender. While many of the personal stories in this anthology can be confronting and visceral in their discussions of sexual harassment and abuse, they serve as a vital testament to the importance of opening up nuanced and often hard-to-have conversations about the issues facing women, non-binary and transgender people in Australia.

One of the things this anthology does best is its ability to bring together works from a diverse range of voices, providing a truly intersectional perspective on sexual violence and harassment in Australia. This includes stories from women of colour, immigrant women, LGBTQIA+ people and women with disabilities. This intersectionality is made all the more important when you consider the often over-bearing whiteness of mainstream feminism. For many women of marginalised backgrounds the ability to speak out, to share a #MeToo story must be weighed up against the risks of financial, social and personal repercussions.

With this in mind, some absolute must-read pieces in this collection are: Eugenia Flynn’s discussion of Aboriginal women and gendered violence, Carly Findlay’s piece on sexual harassment and accountability within disability and activist communities, Rebecca Lim’s ‘#MeToo and the Marginalised’ and Kaya Wilson’s piece about the transgender perspective of gendered violence and  harassment.

Something many of these stories have in common is the complexities involved in speaking out when you belong to a marginalised group. As Eugenia Flynn notes, ‘It is the #MeToo movement not hearing all the times that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women did not speak out, for fear of further stereotyping our men’. Multi-layered identities, in which women belong to multiple groups facing unique issues, make navigating the #MeToo movement much harder.

What the stories in this anthology do is remind us all of the voices left out of movements like #MeToo and the need for all of us to listen to, and support, the women and people whose voices cannot be as readily shared without an awareness and understanding of intersectionality. It’s for this reason that this book is so vital, and why I recommend it to all adult readers. We all have a lot to learn about one another and about gendered violence and harassment. This book is an important step forward for these discussions.

 

5/5 stars

#MeToo is available to purchase here and through any good book store.


Words by Lisandra Linde

Singin’ in the Pain: A Disability and Chronic Illness Cabaret

The premise of Justass League’s Singin’ in the Pain is innovative. It’s a burlesque show based around disability, chronic pain and mental health being two disabilities covered. Like the disabilities, the acts themselves were diverse which included fan dancing, singing, and more.

The performance was deeply personal, the performers spoke of their pain, struggle, and trauma. Be it through singing about mental health or society’s views on what a disability should be, it was an incredibly emotive performance. They opened up about their vulnerabilities and themselves to a wider audience. It was beautiful and empowering to see this unfold.

The stand out performer for me was US disability advocate and burlesque performer Jacqueline Box. Performing two acts, Box gave performances that were jaw-droppingly sexy both from her wheelchair and the ground. As she danced, comments from non-disabled members of society appeared on a screen behind her. Some of the comments included were “You don’t look disabled” and “Have you tried walking around?”. She screamed about her trauma and society’s views on her disability while continuing to dance and strip down. Having a disability myself, I connected with her words as they hit close to home.

Another standout performer was Madam Savage, who spoke of chronic pain and diabetes. Her portrayal showcased how having these disabilities has affected her life, right to the bedroom. She even incorporates her daily diabetic treatment into the act. This was both an interesting and unique twist to the performance.

A must-see performance at the Fringe, Singin’ in the Pain conveys so much emotion and trauma, spreading a message of empowerment to the people with disabilities viewing it. Singin’ in the Pain is a unique, wonderfully crafted burlesque performance.

 


4.5 stars

Words by Cameron Lowe.

To find out more and book tickets, click here.

In Conversation With: Alison Paradoxx

Floral Peroxide is a personal account of my own journey through the medical system, and navigating society as a whole, in a chronically unwell body,’ says 2016 Poetry Slam Championship Alison Bennett, explaining her debut Fringe 2019 performance: Alison Paradoxx presents Floral Peroxide.

Floral Peroxide explores disability using performance poetry, sound art, and dance to tell her story. ‘As a disabled and chronically ill artist,’ says Bennett, ‘I explore the paradoxes of disability, and the societal desire to ‘fix’ the broken self. My work articulates injury, and trauma through metaphor, sound, and visual theatre.’

Floral Peroxide is based primarily on Bennett’s final diagnosis: Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS), which she’s had since birth but wasn’t diagnosed until she was 40.

‘It was my chance to reclaim my identity and construct my own narrative of how I see myself in the world around me. I was sick of other people’s narratives for my life, and, as a poet, naturally began to ‘write what I know’, for me – what started with a lot of anger, and resentment, ended in a journey of acceptance, and understanding.’

Bennett has collaborated with other artists like 5000AD (sound artist), Ian Gibbins (video artist) and Angelique Joy (costume designer) to bring a multimedia experience to Floral Peroxide. The multimedia experience of the performance was ‘motivated by this desire to create performance art that is inclusive, and accessible to all, regardless of ability.’ She also said it came from events she’s performed at which are inaccessible to a number of people with disabilities.

In the media release for Floral Peroxide, Bennett says there is a societal desire to ‘fix’ the broken self. This is to represent society’s view that someone who is ‘broken’ can be mended. She also says it comes from years of trying to explain her pains and disabilities, which have included severe spinal scoliosis and surviving a house fire with second-degree burns. ‘The western world has a majority viewpoint of disability as being a flaw that needs to be corrected, rather than a society that needs to adapt to change!’

When asked about what she thinks about the representation of disability at the 2019 Adelaide Fringe, Bennett said, ‘I feel that 2019 has been a stand-out year, in regard to forging forward with better access for artists, and audience members by Fringe as whole, and I can only see that this will be a positive in enabling other disabled artists to create work, with the Fringe festival in mind.’

She is happy with the inclusion of the Accessibility Champions, an Accessibility guide, and the work by the Fringe’s Access and Inclusion Officer. However, she says it still has a long way to go in giving disabled artists the required needs to be part of any large festival. She would love to see a bigger representation of disability at the Fringe in future years.


If you are interested in seeing Alison Paradoxx presents Floral Peroxide, it will be at The Libertine by Louis on February 23-24. For those interested in learning more about health/disability at the Fringe, be sure to also check out the Social Change Guide to the Fringe by the Don Dunstan Foundation. A link to the signup page can be found here.

Interview by Cameron Lowe