We want to raise £5000 to fund a 5 day workshop on SICK STORIES, a verbatim play about claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). This is the benefit you claim if you're too sick or disabled to work.
In the 10 years since ESA was introduced, it's been hugely controversial. "Sickies" pulling a fast one vs suicides and deaths caused by the system. But too often, the voices of those most affected - people claiming the benefit - have been drowned out by politicians, pundits, academics, the media, and people who haven't yet had to claim benefits.
"I'm tired of being the gum on someone's shoe ..."
DWP Medical Assessment Centre
SICK STORIES is a verbatim play - using real people, telling real stories, in their own words.
I'm a writer, and I live with a long term health condition. I've also worked as a benefits adviser in the voluntary sector. Witnessing people's struggles to get ESA affected me deeply. I decided to write a verbatim play, centred on claimants' experiences.
"Government cut disability benefits of man
with no legs 'because he could climb stairs with his arms' "
Independent, 1 March 2017
I interviewed over 60 people - claimants, doctors, benefits advisers and not-yet claimants. I took the idea to Graeae Theatre Company, one of the UK's foremost disability-led theatre companies. They gave me enormous support and encouragement, through a development process funded by Arts Council England, led by director Amit Sharma. Graeae commissioned me to write a script.
Working with director Gemma Kerr, and with a New Wolsey Theatre Testing Ground commission, we're working towards a production in 2019.
You can find more information about SICK STORIES at www.sickbenefitsplay.org.
Why we need your support
The next stage is a 5 day workshop in summer 2018. This is a key step towards production.
We plan to hone the script, develop a performance language, and introduce music and songs. We'll be working with a majority disabled cast, and one vital element is to focus on how we present performers who may have visible disabilities. We intend every performance to be fully accessible.
How will your support be used?
We are looking for financial support to pay the actors, musicians and creatives, to hire a space, and pay for accessibility needs.
Actors: £471 x 4 5 days
Composer/musician: £287 3 days
Director: £471 5 days
Writer: £325 5 days
Space hire: £1000 5 days
Access needs: £1000
Insurance: £ 100
Rates for actors, composer/musician, director and writer are ITC minimums.
Space hire: We have to budget generously as the space needs to be fully accessible.
Access needs: We are a disabled majority cast so we need to budget for access needs, (paying for taxis, materials in different formats, sign language interpreter, etc).