A ROOM FULL OF ELEPHANT
A Room Full of Elephant (ARFOE) is a show designed for both theatres and VR. The thinking the show comes from 2 impulses:
- to explore the vast number of models of disability
- asking questions about how you embed accessibility into the earliest stages of devising.
The shows earliest scratches tried different ways to achieve this including subverting the traditional round by inverting it with the audience in the middle allowing possibilities of creating an accessible sensory theatre experience that feel like your on a planetarium and embedding BSL in the body of the show using a signer as the second performer.
The content examines perspectives on disabledness through the models of disability: medical, social, charitable, moral, cultural. The show tries to explore the fact that nearly all of the models that have validity in the context they were intended. My poetry plays with these contexts and re-imagines the source material.
Each of these models talks about disability using different language codes and with entirely different philosophical underpinnings. In ARFOE the story of the elephant and the village of the blind is used as a critical starting point to examine the prejudices and problems behind these models and seeks to offer an alternate framing of the experience of disabledness.
SOUTH WEST CREATIVE TECHNOLOGY NETWORK
As a fellow of the South West Creative Technology Network Rowan researched the impact of centering inclusion as an artistic choice rather than a compromise and worked to create a piece of haptic tech for performance: Beat Blocks translate audio into felt vibration.
Another outcome is the concept of the accessible sensory auditorium for VR and real world performances. This space utilises Beat Blocks and centres the audience allowing for complete immersion.
A fast paced 3 person show featuring a poet, dancer and British Sign Language rapper subverting the language and experiences that disable them and exploring the freedom they find for themselves.
Perfectly sized to fit into a double bill or to open or close an evening of entertainment, Deaf Eye features high energy writing, movement and signing blended together. Starting with the written and signed word we collaborated to extend the meaning into movement and develop sign rhymes.
We have played in a club and an outdoors arts festival so we know the performance is versatile and catches people’s attention.
Featuring an original soundtrack by MC Geezer, choreography by Candoco artist Jemima Hoadley combined with the Rowan James’ fiery delivery of the spoken word. The direction by Ed Rapley brings out the unique presence of each performer. The atmosphere of a live gig, the nuance of poetry and the power of dance combine to reveal how everyday language carries a personal cost.
EASY FOR YOU TO SAY
With big beats and big words, all set to the rhythm of Rowan’s irregular heartbeat, poet, Rowan James and beatboxer, Marv Radio, shine a light on the affects of a society obsessed with normality. In a world of normcore fashion and statistical averages, what’s so important about ‘blending in’?
Easy For You To Say is a spoken-word theatre show about labels, self identity, and the lack of understanding around disability. Rowan’s challenging stories ask questions about how we judge individual worth; exploring choices of when to wear a label and when not to.
The show takes the audience on a journey from everyday encounters, through assumptions, statistical averages, compromises and quirks. The audience will leave questioning what ‘normal’ is and why anyone would even want to be that. Rowan draws on personal experience as a vehicle to invite the audience to explore their relationship to judgements, labels and perceptions of disability.
Easy for You to Say, was developed with support from the Arts Council England and Cambridge Junction it debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2015 as part of the IF Platform, supported by the British Council.
EXEUNT MAGAZINE, JOY MARTIN ON EASY FOR YOU TO SAY:
‘The poet Rowan James gave a preview of his new show Easy for You to Say, which is spoken word refracted into different forms – poetry, storytelling and rap – in collaboration with beatboxer Marv Radio. It was an energetic and intelligent show about the question of ‘normality’ and perceptions of ability via James’ personal story of being diagnosed with a disability. Some of the word formulations were incredibly beautiful – proper silvery poetry, deep and bright, and I really enjoyed it.’
SLATE THE DISCO ON EASY FOR YOU TO SAY:
DISABILITY ARTS ONLINE, COLIN HAMBROOK ON DEAF EYE:
GUARDIAN ARTICLE ABOUT INTEGRATED FRINGE: