I love I-HAPPY-I-GOOD. I am in this show. I am featured as the voice of Fiona, I am teaching various BSL signs in the video below which audiences watch before they start on their journey, I even greet audience members, waiting with them when they arrive and taking them to their first position. I’m heavily involved, but I feel utterly relaxed about saying, loudly and clearly, I think this show is brilliant.
Heres’s the video which is used at the start of the show to introduce the audience member to deafblindness.
This has a lot to do with the fact that it is not my show. My actor-theatre maker pal, Amy Conway, had the original idea and wrote the script. It was her experiences as a support worker for deafblind women that informed and inspired her. Because it seems so much like Amy’s idea, I can be simply impressed by that and help to serve it. It’s a nice feeling.
The show focuses on the experience of deafblindness, and also the experience of caring for deafblind service users in a care setting. I believe Amy’s writing and performance (she has the most interaction with the audience during the show) are nuanced and challenging. The audience experience the show one at a time, which is tricky financially as there must be at least three performers working all the time. We did the show at the Southside Fringe in May, at TouchBase, the hub of Sense Scotland. It went really well. We were nearly sold out and got some totally brilliant feedback. People talked about the challenges, the need for trust, the insight into a new world. I liked this one:
An exercise in trust and a whole new insight into deafblindness – stunning, creative work, and real food for thought regarding current resources (or lack thereof!).’
The thing is, I don’t just think the show is good and enjoyable. Part of the reason I feel I can say how good it is is because I think it is a really important. I think that more people should see it as I think in form and content it is a show that can open up new worlds. You know who I would love to see it? This man.
The first time we did the show, at Arches Live 2013, we had our dress rehearsal underneath the LibDems end of conference party. Oh, the temptation to go and nab a handful and enforce culture on them. As care funds for people like Fiona are depleted and people are genuinely being asked to prove that they are not going to recover from congenital deafblindness, wouldn’t it be nice if some art could help that?
Thinking along the lines of my Alex-Neil-would-be-quite-straightforward-to-bag approach, why don’t we do this show for all the MSPs? I haven’t really spoken to Amy about this, but she, like me, wears a necklace that says ‘Feminist’ on it in swirly letters, and so she is not afraid of sparking political debate. She’s also really political and progressive and passionate about this issue and it was her that suggested we kidnap Nick Clegg and make him watch it at Arches Live, another small clue which led me to my conclusion, the kind of clue many wouldn’t pick up on <twiddles moustache>. Consider this a request to the universe. If anyone can help me in this (do MSPs ever get culture brought to them? would they all die on contact with a one-to-one show?), let me know. The show only takes about 40 minutes for each person, we only need one person at a time, so the country wouldn’t need to wither and die without them all. We could career through the lot of them in a couple of weeks. LET’S DO THIS.
PS. If you haven’t had a chance to see I-HAPPY-I-GOOD but you want to experience good art about deafblindness, you should watch the fantastic film The Planet of the Snail. It was recommended to us by the wonderful Adrian Howells, who was a big inspiration and help in the development of IHIG. He worked for a long time with Sense and gave us great advice. It was his suggestion to Isobel MacRae (Arts Development Officer at Sense) that she should see the show that led to the arrangement of this latest performance of it. One of a thousand such inspirations to thank Adrian for.