A combination of visual art and spoken word poetry, Spaced is a collaboration between the Emerging Writers Festival and The Waiting Room Arts Company. Spaced will feature in this year’s festival. The collaboration will see artists Maja Amanita, Amy Bodossian and Jessica Kapuscinski-Evans respond to the question: ‘If there was a magic pill that could cure your disability, would you take it?’.

Inform caught up with Jessica Kapuscinski-Evans, pictured above, to learn more about The Waiting Room Arts Company and the Emerging Writers Festival collaboration.

 

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am a woman with disabilities (quadriplegic, anxious and full-time wheelchair user). I have been doing theatre and music most of my life and studied a Bachelor of Arts a few years ago majoring in French and literature.

 

What sort of work do you make?

Theatre inspired by paperback novels including crime, sci-fi and fantasy. But I have recently wanted to try some poetry/spoken word and work with visual artists. I also sing with ‘crip folk’ trio The Bearbrass Asylum Orchestra. We are an all disabled band and our music is blues, rock, folk, pop inspired. All our songs are about the experience of being queer and/or disabled.

 

You recently formed The Waiting Rooms Arts Company, can you tell us about the company and the kind of work it makes?

We specialise in live art (theatre, dance, visual arts, poetry/spoken word and some music). The aim is to commission one work in each discipline every year and to present some material written by me and some created by other artists. We prioritise work that needs a boost in some way. So we tend to focus on solo musicians or under represented artists rather than film and TV or bands for example.

 

What led you to forming The Waiting Room Arts Company?

When I was a teenager, there were hardly any opportunities for artists with disabilities. Or certainly none that I knew of. Later, I discovered a thriving arts community amongst my disabled peers but became aware that there were gaps. The same five activists were being asked to talk at events and few groups were actually run by people with disabilities themselves. I also started to think about what things I would have wanted to learn when I was beginning my arts career.

To this end, Waiting Room provides opportunities for artists with a wide range of experiences of disability and prioritises those who are 18-30 years of age and/or who have no more than 5 years’ experience in the independent arts industry. When the company grows a bit more, we hope to be able to provide assistance with learning how to do some of the admin side of the arts, mentoring and a school’s workshop package as part of our repertoire.

 

Can you tell us about the Emerging Writers Festival event?

I became aware that all the famous mental illness activists and advocates did not identify as disabled despite the fact that mental illness is included in all the legal definitions of disability. Similarly, it is only recently that the broader disability community has become more accepting of those with mental illness. Spaced was born out of this phenomenon. It also became an opportunity for me to experiment with my writing and do some poetry/spoken word. Finally, it was time that I tried to write about some deep and meaningful things rather than plays with guns and dragons.

 

What can audiences expect from Spaced?

A mixture of philosophy, mythology and celebration, before during and after moments of trauma and chaos. For those coming to see the show please be aware that it contains references to ableism, sexual violence, medical procedures and psychosis. The event will be Auslan interpreted and captioned. However due to last minute complications, Maja Amanita’s piece will not be captioned, so if you require this service feel free to still come to the show but grab a beer or a cigarette while her piece is on. The venue is also wheelchair accessible.

 

EWF x The Waiting Room Arts Company: Spaced is on Tuesday June 25, 7:30pm at Loop Project Space & Bar.

For more information, see: www.emergingwritersfestival.org.au/event/ewf-x-the-waiting-room-arts-company-spaced/

Find more information about The Waiting Room Arts Company here: www.thewaitingroomartsco.blogspot.com/

 

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