DaDaFest International Festival returns this autumn with a fantastic and fascinating programme showcasing the talents of disabled, Deaf and neurodivergent artists and performers.
This year’s festival, with the theme and title Hybrid, runs over six weeks from 26 October to 3 December at venues across the city and beyond including the Unity Theatre, Bluecoat, Museum of Liverpool and St Helens Library as well as online.
The 2022 event features the work of three DaDa Fellows who have received creative bursaries from DaDa to enhance their creative practice, build confidence, and develop skills to drive change for disabled people in the arts and our communities.
They are Kadisha Kayani, Rhiannon May and Amina Atiq.
The first festival week of events and performances all take place at the Unity Theatre, opening on Wednesday, 26 October when Rosa Faye Garland presents Trash Salad, co-produced by DaDa and Homotopia.
Rosa Faye Garland is a performer, clown and maker who trained at Ecole Philippe Gaulier. Trash Salad, a genre-bending burlesque adventure using lip sync, strip tease and song, is her solo comedy debut which became a cult hit at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.
The programme continues on Thursday, 27 October with 24, 23, 22, ‘a little earthquake’ of a gig-theatre show produced by Nottingham-based theatre company Chronic Insanity.
On Friday, 28 October, Kadisha Kayani performs Sunshine and Shadows. Kadisha is a queer, neurodivergent artist and performer from Liverpool who focuses on work to stimulate socio-political change in the community.
It’s mid-covid and 19-year-old Estelle is feeling alone and reflective. When her relationship between her best friends is put to the test, and in the era of social media, will she feel like this forever or will she begin to face the fears of her inner child?
And on Saturday, 29 October, Deaf actor, theatre and textile designer Rhiannon May presents Crash Landing: A Theatrical Sensory Experience which invites its audience to plunge into the chaotic world of Planet Zoe.
All the first week of events will be filmed and will be available on demand from 31 October to 18 December.
The second week of the festival takes place online and on demand until 18 December and features Hera’s We Ask These Questions of Everybody, Past Life by Alice Christina-Corrigan, Flight Pathsby Extant, the UK’s leading professional performing arts company of visually impaired artists and theatre practitioners, and Rachel Parry’s MALPER.
Intersectional feminist opera company Hera celebrates and shares music and stories you haven’t heard before. We Ask These Questions of Everybody, from joint artistic director Toria Banks and composer Amber Skuse, is an encounter between two women, an audience and a riotous chorus of disabled voices in a 50-minute digital operatic event sharing disabled people’s experiences under austerity in the UK and performed by an exceptional all-disabled ensemble.
Alice Christina-Corrigan is a visually impaired and neurodiverse actor, theatre maker and creative captioner. Past Life is a one person show underpinned by a unique sound score, audio descriptive language and creative captioning.
Meanwhile Flight Paths invites audiences to journey from medieval times to the contemporary world with the Goze blind storytellers of Japan, creating their own unique story through interactive navigation and encountering aerial performance, animation and song.
And Rachel Parry is a UK based interdisciplinary visual artist, curator and producer, whose experimental approach to their practice blends the use of live performance art, installation, traditional fine arts, writing and texts, body-based movement, sound, creative and digital technologies, to constantly dissect and retell their own living history.
In MALPER, embark on a weird and wonky web-based, interactive multiple-choice, clickable experience, resulting in a whimsical yet disastrous choice-driven experience, replicating their ADHD storytelling and lived experiences.
Keep Clear, an exhibition of photography by Mark Peachey is at St Helens Library from Monday, 7 November to Friday, 2 December. Mark captures locations with a strong sense of place, especially urban places including his home town St Helens where he finds the changing post-industrial landscape particularly engaging.
And DaDa Academy Digital Showcase is an online exhibition of work created by talented young people as part of the Alder Hey Project, a collaboration with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital which allows patients to establish their own voice and express themselves creatively, and the Young Musicians Ensemble. It also runs from Monday, 7 November.
The Museum of Liverpool is the location for an exhibition of work created as part of Shielded in the Community, a disabled-led project that gathered artistic responses to shielding from disabled people in the North-West responding to prompts from professional artists. It will open on Wednesday, 16 November to coincide with the start of Disability History Month.
Meanwhile The Bluecoat will host Amina Atiq on Wednesday, 23 November. Amina is a Yemini-Scouse poet, award-winning activist, performance artist and creative practitioner whose previous work for DaDaFest includes Broken Biscuits.
The Bluecoat will also be the venue for a DaDa Ensemble Concert on Friday, 25 November, featuring disabled, Deaf and neurodivergent musicians aged 12 to 25. Both events will be filmed and available on demand from 28 November to 18 December.
Pen Pals launches online on Monday, 28 November. The British Council-funded cross-cultural and cross-art form project brings together disabled artists associated with three international disability arts festivals in Liverpool, Indonesia and Nigeria.
And this year’s Edward Rushton Lecture takes place at the Museum of Liverpool on Saturday, 3 December, which is International Day of Disabled People. This year’s lecture, named after the blind poet, activist and abolitionist, will be given by writer and artist Khairani Barokka and will also be live streamed and then made available on demand.
Jakarta-based Khairani Barokka is editor of Modern Poetry in Translation. Her work has been presented widely internationally and aims to centre disability justice as anticolonial praxis. She is the author-illustrator of Indigenous Species (Tilted Axis), author of Rope and co-editor of Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back (both Nine Arches). Her latest book, Ultimatum Orangutan, is shortlisted for the Barbellion Prize.
DaDa, founded in 1984, develops and presents excellent disability and Deaf arts through a multi-art form artistic programme that includes high quality festivals, interventions and events, fed in to by a year-round programme of engagement work with developing and established artists, young disabled, Deaf and neurodivergent people, their families and the wider community.
The first DaDaFest International was presented by DaDa in 2001 as a platform to showcase the work of disabled, Deaf and neurodivergent artists.
The festival programme features national collaborations including joint commissions, programme sharing and organizational development covering both disabled and non-disabled artists, and local partnerships working collaboratively to increase artistic excellence, support local established and emerging artists.
Previous festival participants have included actor and comedian Liz Carr, comedians Laurence Clark and Francesca Martinez, Simon Weston, and musician Dame Evelyn Glennie.
DaDaFest International Festival executive producer Joe Strickland says:
“This year’s festival celebrates the work of our first cohort of DaDa ‘Fellows’ and brings together a range of new digital and in person work by North West and national artists.
“The festival title and theme Hybrid highlights our continued approach to presenting work post lockdown. We’re always working to find ways of making work more widely accessible without compromising on quality and we strive to share in person and digital projects and experiences alongside each other.
“This year, we have aimed to support artists to experiment with new approaches to inclusive and integrated access and develop their own skills and style of inclusive practice.”
DaDaFest International festival operates a ‘pay what you decide’ pricing with tickets for individual events ranging from a suggested £10 general admission to £8 concessions, £5 half price, and free.
There are also week tickets costing a suggested £20 general admission/£16 concessions/£10 half price/free, and festival passes which give access to events across the entire six weeks and which cost a suggested £40/£32/£20/free.