Right Of Way @ VAULT Festival 23'
RIGHT OF WAY is a new play by artist Beth Bowden - an embodied reflection on the Southwest Coast Path, chronic illness, accessibility, Young Carers, and radical joy. The piece is semi-autobiographical and explores the intimate connection we have with powerful bodies of water, our heritage, and with the women in our lives. Taking place at VAULT Festival, 21-26 February 2023
Right Of Way @ VAULT Festival 23'
RIGHT OF WAY is a response to Beth’s experience of becoming a Young Carer. It follows a young woman walking the South West Coast path, documenting her journey of 100+ miles in the face of grief & exhaustion. It is a reflection on bodies, chronic illness, loss and joy. Using innovative multimedia projection, exploring natural materials and movement, this new play aims to kickstart conversations about disability and chronic illness.
Initially written as part of Beth’s MA Advanced Theatre Practice at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, the piece was developed with renowned practitioners, including Maja Milatovic-Ovadia, and had an initial performance run at Camden People’s Theatre.
RIGHT OF WAY has been chosen for development as part of the VAULT Five Artist Programme. Beth was accepted from an applicant pool of 206 to undertake a nine-month development programme for five early to mid-career artists who receive mentorship, workshops, in-kind support and a programmed slot in VAULT Festival 2023. VAULT Festival is the UK’s leading independent festival of live performance, and emerging artists.
As you can imagine, this is an extremely exciting opportunity, and we are delighted to be able to develop the work in collaboration with VAULT.
We are also undertaking a short residency at the University of Exeter and MakeTank Exeter in January 2023, in order to develop the work. Beth is also receiving mentorship from Tatty Hennessy, award winning writer, dramaturg and director.
Creatively, the piece is about bodies in motion, bodies through illness, bodies as landscapes, and bodies moving through, against and within natural materials. It is experimental with all these elements - a mess created with salt, soil and water, bodies bathed in images of the landscape, and chalk carved out onto the floor. It is experimental, mucky and complex.
Beth initially planted the seed for this piece during the first lockdown - amidst feelings of grief and anger at the continuing lack of social provision for disability and chronic illness. Drawing on personal experience of DNR’s, benefit claims, PIP, COVID isolation, and caring, she started to write. In May of this year, she revived the project, and began walking the South West Coast Path in June of this year.
The realities and strain faced by disabled people and those with chronic illness, families and young carers have only increased since Lockdown One. Clinically vulnerable people are still at significant risk from COVID-19, and there’s a growing gulf in expectations between those of us who must still consider every risk that COVID poses, and the perception that the pandemic is over.
As artists, we recognise this political, social and cultural context, and are focused on platforming this story. It is increasingly important that in the wake of the pandemic, to spotlight the many hidden and devastating impacts of the pandemic: from the NHS backlog, the deaths of vulnerable people, the 13,000 children who have lost a parent to COVID, to the isolation experienced by many clinically vulnerable people and their families. The piece also focuses more broadly on ever-decreasing benefits, cultural stereotypes of disability, and mental health impacts. By centering aspects of this reality, we hope the project will spark dialogue about lack of support, benefits & funding for disability, carers & those with chronic illness in the UK.
But this is not a story of defeat or sadness, it is ultimately a story of joy: of choosing to walk, to grow, and to reclaim space. This is so important - to reframe the narrative around disability and chronic illness, and of young carers. The piece, of course, wrestles with grief and anger - but there is also radical joy and indomitable grit.
Accessibility & Creative Workshop
As the piece is disability and chronic illness focused, our Accessibility measures are extremely important to us. As such, we have budgeted for a number of additional measures for the performances. This includes a Creative Captioner as we want the piece to include fully integrated creative captions. StageTEXT, who are leaders in the field, say:
“As well as deaf audiences, there are many other people who can benefit from captions. They are useful for anyone for whom English isn’t their first language, for instance, or for people who need support with concentration”
We have decided to use Creative Captioning as accessibility is artistically integral to the show, and we want the captions to complement the design aesthetics and overall performance. We are also collaborating with VAULT to accommodate physical requirements as much as possible, including a masked show and two relaxed shows in the run to increase access provision. The Producer will be implementing other supplementary tools such as social stories, hand outs, and a quiet space.
The project also includes a free creative workshop for emerging disabled and care experienced artists in Exeter. This workshop will invite artists to creatively engage in the themes of the project, giving a space for them to share their stories and collaborate in creative activity and expression. What we explore in this workshop will inform the development of the final piece. The end of the session will provide a chance for networking, encouraging future creative collaborations.
For RIGHT OF WAY, the work is supported, and boosted by a wonderful team: including Susannah Bramwell (Creative Producer), Nina Fidderman (Associate Artist) and Lizzie Debonnaire (Production Manager). These may be familiar faces…and the collaboration builds on previous creative, messy and political productions at the University of Exeter, MakeTank, and The Almeida!
If you want to know a little more about each of us, please find this information below:
We are partnering with local and national groups to help make sure this project happens and reaches the communities we want to reach.
This includes a Creative Residency and support from MakeTank in Exeter where we will explore our creative practice physically, and host our workshop. We are receiving additional support from the University of Exeter Drama Department and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, who are giving us rehearsal space in-kind to develop the piece, dig into the script and experiment with video technology. Finally, the show is being performed at VAULT Festival, who are supporting the project throught the VAULT 5 Artist Development Programme. Take a look at the images below to find out more about each of our wonderful partners.
Where Your Money Will Go
Below you can see a breakdown of the costs incurred for the project. All costs have been quoted from suppliers or calculated in line with current rates, and we are lucky to receive a special deals on marketing and insurance costs through VAULT Festival.
As a thank you, we have a number of rewards available. Every little bit helps, but if you can't donate, you can definitely still help us out! Please make noise about our campaign and our project. Share it on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and bring it to the attention of all your friends!
You can follow us:
Instagram - @RIGHTOFWAYPLAY
Twitter - @RIGHTOFWAYPLAY
Want To Know More?
If you have any questions about our crowdfunding campaign, the production, or any of the team, please do not hesitate to get in touch. You can contact us at email@example.com