Representation of Disability in Theatre

Representation and diversity in theatre is something that is really important but unfortunately there is often a distinct lack of it. And because of this I feel its a topic that needs to be discussed.
Not only is representation important, accurate representation is vital. Recently the play All In a Row at the Southwark Playhouse used a puppet to portray an Autistic character.
This saw the autistic community take to twitter to express their concerns and feelings that the puppet was dehumanising and re-enforcing negative stereotypes that surround autism, one of them being that autistic people cant be independent, as obviously a puppet needs someone in order to have any function.
As a response to the backlash they were facing Southwark Playhouse released this statement:

Statement taken from Southwark Playhouse Twitter

A lot of people in the autistic community of twitter felt that statement released was a bit of a piss take and the reasons stated in the statement did not justify their ‘artistic choice’ of using a puppet to portray the character. I agree with this feeling, I mean how many times have we been asked to believe a 30 year old is 17 in a show? A lot of people, including myself felt that should have cast an adult, autistic or not, who was young looking to take on the roll.

As an autistic person myself the fact they used a puppet is honestly disgusting to me.
Because it does in itself reinforce harmful stereotypes of autism.
Specifically the fact that a puppet is useless unless it has someone to use it.

Once I went for a job interview. I was taken there by my Personalised 4 Autism case worker.
The woman at the interview didnt address me, she addressed my support worker and asked
‘Can she talk?’ ‘Can she walk?’ ‘Can she understand and hold conversations?’

And for me the use of a puppet only puts that out there. So many people who I come across think thats what autism is, a lack of being able to be independent, to speak etc. They shouldn’t have used a puppet, they should have listened to the autistic community.
Because they caused untold distress. Their reasoning for using a puppet was quite frankly laughable. And that’s where my issue lies. They ignored us. They ignored our concerns and just came up with a bullshit excuse.

Maybe the content of the show was good but that does not do anything to take away from how harmful and dehumanizing the puppet is.

Along with the use of the puppet, they only offered one relaxed performance of the show. So as well as putting out harmful images, they also failed to make the show accessible which only angered people more.

It is so important for people who have a disability to feel represented in a way that doesn’t feel harmful or play only on stereotypes of the disability.

Along with casting actors in roles that depict that disability, we should also be cast disabled actors in what ‘traditionally’ are non-disabled roles. Two shows that I have seen do this in the past year are Spring Awakening Manchester and Hadestown at the National Theatre in which the wonderful and immensely talented Beth Hinton-Lever who was born with Congenital Limb Deficiency and as a result was born without her lower right forearm was cast. This needs to be happening more, actors who have a disability of some sort are just as talented and just as worthy to be seen as those who don’t have a disability. In fact I feel its more important that they are seen because there is such a lack of representation out there and as a result so many people don’t get the opportunity to see someone who looks like themselves in any kind of media, be it film, tv or theatre. Being able to see themselves represented in a positive way can make all the difference to a young person, or anybody for that matter.

Its 2019, why aren’t we seeing more representation of disability? and for that matter, more representation across the board. Its about time we caught up and put those voices and that untapped talent out there.

And to those who are writing a piece that features a disability that they do not suffer from themselves; ask for feed back from people who have the disability you are trying to write, listen to their feedback, especially the feedback that is telling you that what your doing with the writing and depiction is, in their eye harmful. Don’t disregard those voices, they are the ones who live with it everyday, they are the ones who have to deal with the stereotypes that will just be added to if you don’t listen to their voices. If you get us on side then you will have a loyal following, if you piss us off you can guarantee that we will fight the production and speak out against it as loudly as we can.
For you its a way of making money, for us? We live with disability everyday, we deserve to be listened to and not feel harmed as a community by the shows being put out there.

Depression is a BITCH

Depression is something most of us will experience at some point in our lives, and it sucks.
Depression has a way of draining all the light from your life, leaving you in a seemingly purpetual darkness. It’s draining, some days just getting out of bed seems an impossible task.
The past week has been full of those days for me. The smallest thing going wrong becomes completely overwhelming. That yoghurt you wanted has been eaten by someone else? You burst into tears. That’s ok, there’s no shame in that.
Depression isn’t forever, although it may feel that way at times. It does not mean you are weak.
One day you will come out the otherside, those grey cloud will eventually disperse. Things that seem so big now will slide into insignificance, it will take time but it will happen.
There is always hope. Just because you can’t see it at that precise moment doesn’t mean it’s not there to be found and reclaimed. It’s just trying to hang onto that clarity when your thoughts are so murky. You don’t have to suffer it alone, there is help out there, ask for it and use it!
Depression is temporary. It’s an overcomeable obstacle.
Ask for help if you need it.
Reach out in moments of crisis.
You’re meant to be here.
It may not seem like that way, but you have a purpose.
Live life at your own pace
It isn’t a race.

My Favourite Instagram Letterers

CAROLICITYDESIGNS

CAROLICITYDESIGNS INSTAGRAM

I absolutely adore Carols lettering styles and her work with watercolours. Her art is always so slick, with flawless blends and paint bleeds to die for. Whether it be a lettering piece or a watercolour painting I can’t get enough of her work.

Carol posts process videos which are always a joy to watch.

An all round lovely person she inspires me so much.

AROBINSONART

AROBINSONART INSTAGRAM

Alyssa was one of the first letterers that I followed on Instagram when I started lettering myself. Her style is so unique and I love seeing what she makes. From lettering to murals and paintings. I would love to be half as good as this talented woman! I take so much from her work and love her because she doesnt sensor what she writes. There’s something really pleasing about seeing swear words written in pretty lettering!

HEYFOXY.AU

HEYFOXY.AU INSTAGRAM

Josie is another account that I have been following since I first got into lettering. Her current series is something I really look forward to seeing the next installment of 100 Days of Mixed Media. The colours she uses and her style is one that I adore. I wish I had her commitment to projects , if I did I’d give the 100 Days of Mixed Media challenge ago myself because I love what she has created from it.

DEBBIESLETTERING

DEBBIESLETTERING INSTAGRAM

I first found Debbies account a few months back when she posted a video of her embossing a Dr Seuss quote onto a notebook.

Her lettering style is flawless and she is one of my go to accounts when searching for inspiration. Her grasp of colour is brilliant, where as mine is questionable at best.

GRACEALLIDESIGNS

GRACEALLIDESIGNS INSTAGRAM

I love Grace to bits, another account that I have been following for quite a while she posts videos of lettering and has also made a workbook called and I love it. It has helped me improve my work so much.

The composition of her work is always spot on, my favourite piece she’s done is her lettering of a quote from Seventeen (reprise) from the musical Heathers.

She is currently making another workbook of lettering that can be done with normal pens, I will definitely be getting it when it’s released!

My Diagnosis Story: Type 1 Diabetes

Today is World Diabetes Day so I thought I would share my diagnosis story.

On the 21st of February this year I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes which is an autoimmune disease. It came as quite a shock.

I had been feeling unwell for a few months and was suffering from extreme headaches, blurred vision and was constantly tired so I finally went to the doctors. They ran blood tests, sent me to the opticians and even booked for me to have a CT scan. They didn’t suspect type 1 diabetes.

After one lot of bloods came back with some markers flagged they sent me to have repeat blood tests done.

Then on the morning of the 21st of February we got a phone call from the doctors, my mum answered it. They said I needed to come in urgently because they think I have type 1 diabetes.

When my mum got off the phone she came up to my room and told me. I cried and said I wasnt going to the doctors and that I didnt care.

My mum called my dad and got him to come home from work so we could all go to the doctors together.

At the doctors they do a finger prick test and my blood sugar was 19.4mmol. They sent me straight to A&E. I decided to take my dad with me as he is a type 1 diabetic and was best placed to help.

After sitting in A&E for hours I was finally seen by the diabetes team. They bombarded me with information and gave me my insulin pens, needles, insulin, blood glucoes meter a ketone metre and some test strips. It was daunting.

It was my 21st birthday the next day and as I was going to London my family were meant to come over that day to give me my presents but that had to be cancelled.

Doing my first injection and blood test was so scary but I did it. I dont think it had really hit me at that point that I would be doing this for the rest of my life. 5 injections at least a day, everyday.

8 months on its easier. But when it’s a bad day it leaves me feeling rough as hell.

Days out are hard to manage because it’s out of routine and my insulin needs change with what I’m doing.

I’m still trying to get the hang of it. It is very much trial and error, sometimes you get it spot on, others you get it horribly wrong.

Everyday is a learning curve.


If you think you may have syptoms of T1D please go to your doctors as it’s so serious and needs diagnosing if you have it!

Hello and welcome to my blog!

I thought as a first post it might be an idea to do a bit of a get to know me fact file and a small introduction.

Starting with the fact file, here we go!

NAME

Ambs Louise

HOGWARTS HOUSE

Hufflepuff

FAVOURITE MUSICALS

Spring Awakening is my all time favourite musical but I also love Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, SIX, Heathers, Falsettos, Sweeney Todd, Wicked and Les Miserable!

FAVOURITE BOOKS

My favourite book and I book I recommend to literally everyone is The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde it’s a book that will always have a special place in my heart. Some of my other favourites include The Sin Eaters Daughter Trilogy by Melinda Salisbury, You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour, Dracula by Bram Stoker and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban by J.K. Rowling.

FAVOURITE QUOTE

“Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.”- Oscar Wilde from The Picture of Dorian Gray.

I’ve wanted to start a blog for a long time and have attempted to many times before but not had the time to keep up to date with it. But now I do have the time and so I decided to make a proper go of it. I guess I’m writing this blog for myself as much as I am for people to read. I’ve struggled with my mental health for a long while so Im hoping that writing a blog about the things I love as well as mental health will help me along the way and maybe other people! Who knows?

I love the theatre and books so a lot of the content on here will probably revolve around that along with some personal posts and just my thoughts on things.

I hope you like my blog!