Involuntary Cures

My dearest, well-meaning Professional,

Please do not press your cures

upon my body.

Have you ever thought that I might not be sick

Or that the parts of me you see as broken

are not the parts I want to change?

I often wished when I was younger

that if I touched someone’s skin

I’d have the ability to feel their body,

their pain and their joy,

as if it were my own.

But where is my right to feel another’s self?

It’s theirs, and I have no ground to demand it’s proof

Sometimes the only thing we can truly claim as ours

is our pain.

My only power can be to listen as they explain,

as best they can, in the fumbling inaccuracy of words

their lived experience.

My only power is to put aside my assumptions, put aside what I Know

and let them show me their truth

in whole or in part, as they wish.

I would not invade their physical body with my own

and so I ask you

Dear Apothecary,

do not to invade me with your assumptions, medicines and cures.

I do not want to be whole.

My truth is not whole

but imperfect and broken

like the world around it.

Do not try and cure me, good Doctor, but let me grow

twisted, abnormal and malformed

and show you my broken and imperfect



Can Everything be Accessible to Everyone?


I spent this weekend in London attending a Dickie Beau workshop. At the same time, in the same building, the disability festival UNLIMITED were having a conference with all of the artists they had funded… I couldn’t quite believe my luck. 17 of the UK’s most highly praised disabled artists in one room.

The image above is from a ideas session held during the conference. I snuck into the room during lunch to have a look, and ask some of the artists what they had been up to.

My big question right now …. can you make an artwork accessible for everyone? Should you try to? Should you make work for specific demographics, or for everybody? No-one in the room could quite agree.

Accesible Performance … inaccessible to solo artists?


When making my degree show, BODYHOODS, I was determined for it to be as accessible as possible. However, I underestimated the logistical and financial challenges this would present to me. Even making the marketing material accessible was too expensive.

I couldn’t afford a BSL interpreter, and even if I could the interpreters I spoke to were used to interpreting shows with set scripts that were planned months in advance. The way I work lets the material morph, buckle and reinvent itself right until the dress rehearsal.

This set back has made me much more determined. It is mostly ‘mainstream’ work or work classed as ‘disability art’ that is made accessible to deaf audience members. It is difficult for me to understand why accessibility isn’t an assumed part of all art. Imagine someone dictated what performances you could go and see. If I told you that you could only see classical music concerts and not the pantomime, how would you feel?

Not making a performance accessible is an act of segregation. It is as clear a discrimination as having ‘No Coloured People Here’ above the door. Why is it unacceptable to expect black people to sit at the back of the bus, but people with tourettes have to sit in the lighting box and wheelchair users have to sit in designated spaces? When was someone’s bodily biology an excuse for overt discrimination and segregation?

Despite all of this, as a solo artist working on a very small budget (as most solo artists are, especially emerging ones) how can my work reflect my belief in accessible performance? This may be an investigation I have to follow for a long time.





Dear Bel

 Thank you for your bid to the Equality and Diversity Budget Panel.

This was a well put together submission and the panel fully respect and support the ambition to make CPP Graduation Shows fully accessible, but it is not deemed fair to support an individual student’s show.

 We are working with the Deaf Theatre Club to provide a broader menu of offerings to their members and this submission has reinforced that we are correct in our thinking that we shouldn’t continue to just offer signed performances of mainstream productions.

 The panel is disappointed to be unable to support this request and offers you every good wish for success in your Graduation Show.


The Equality and Diversity Board

Have you Accessibility Accessed your performance?

How have your marketed your performance? Are you marketing materials available in

  • large print
  • braile
  • audio
  • signed video
  • simple language/image supported
  • Does it provide warning of potentially triggering material (both physical – strobe – or mental – portraying distressing topics)

How do audience members enter your venue? How do they enter the space?

  • Are there any stairs? Even tiny steps can be difficult to access via wheelchair
  • do you provide sighted guidence?
  • are there bannisters along corridors/walkways?
  • do any of the FOH team sign?
  • are the corridors and doorways wide enough for wheelchairs?
  • do you provide free tickets for support workers?
  • are there disabled toilets?
  • are there gender neutral toilets?

Where are the audience placed during your performance?

  • Is there space for wheelchairs? Can wheelchair users choose their position, or is it dictated to them?
  • Are you seats numbered? If so, are they in Braille/large type?
  • Are your audience standing? if so, have you provided seats for audience that cannot remain standing for a long time
  • are hard of hearing or deaf audience members positioned where they can lip-read?

How accessible is your performance material?

  • Do you use text? if so, is it signed? do you provide a hearing loop? Is you performance captioned?
  • Do you use visuals? if so, do you have an audio describer and a pre-show touch tour?
  • Do you use strobe that could trigger epileptic audience members? If so, have you provided warning?
  • Does your material have the potential to trigger PTSD episodes/panic attacks/low mood? if so, have you provided adequate warning?
  • Does your performance allow for audience members to come and go easily?
  • Does your performance allow for noise / movement within the audience?

What after-care do you provide?

  • If you have raised sensitive topics, do you give people information about support and services available? Can you create a safe post-show space for people to take time after the show/
  • How can you get feedback on the accessibility of your performance, in order to improve it in future?

How able-bodied people feel when they see a visibly disabled body

I have identified 4 main negative reactions to the visibly disabled body

  • Pity

*Inspiration Porn



I want to keep exploring how I can own the otherness and allow that to be a source of power.

I am looking at extreme sculptural costume to achieve this. I’m taking inspiration from the movement of Jack Webb and Liz Aggis and the costumes of Leigh Bowery and Lady Gaga

BODYHOODS : performance for January 2015, Into the New Festival



Am I able or disabled?

I have limits. So do you.

What happens when the person you are is not the person you look like? Can only women wear a dress and heels, and should you use a wheelchair when you can walk? Who is allowed to darken their skin?

The body is a target of attack and a place of shelter. It is a source of strength and the justification of self-sabotage. It is how we meet the world. “BODYHOODS” asks to what degree we perform the identities we are assigned or strive to own. Drawing upon personal experiences of invisible disability, Bel Pye asks who is allowed a disabled identity.

This performance is fully accessible to deaf audience members.