Z. The History of CRIPtic

A stylised and edited photo from the history of CRIPtic. It is of Jamie Hale in their electric wheelchair, in a blue shirt, electric purple jeans, and with red hair, outlined in white and superimposed over the word CRIPtic on a turquoise background

The history

The history of CRIPtic begins with Transpose. This was CN Lester’s groundbreaking showcase of trans artists, founded in 2011, and based at the Barbican Centre. Jamie Hale performed at that event. Following that, they did an R&D residency to develop the work that became their show: NOT DYING. Later, this won them the Evening Standard Future Theatre Fund Award for Directing/Theatremaking.

After that, in 2018 Jamie pitched to the Barbican to create a showcase of deaf and disabled artists. This was based on the Transpose Model, celebrating the high quality art coming from a historically marginalised community. The Barbican agreed, and CRIPtic began – showcasing six emerging creatives, with NOT DYING as its central show.

The showcase

The first year’s showcase had an incredible team. It included Shereen Hamilton as director, Lucy Hayward as producer, and Kate O’Donnell directing Jamie in NOT DYING. It was entirely made up of deaf and disabled people. From the composer for NOT DYING (Lucy Hale, who sadly died in Jan 2021) to the pianist (Stephan Ellenberger). The line-up was incredible – Signkid, Jackie Hagan, Amelia Cavallo / Tito Bone, DL Williams, Jessi Parrott, Elle Chante and Katie Walters. There, we made history, taking over the Pit to celebrate our community. 

The growth

In 2020, COVID hit, and Jamie Hale worked on a creative response. For instance, our activities included partnering with Spread the Word on a Lewisham Council funded project titled Poetry and Place. This project brought people from across Lewisham together through a postal poetry course. We used form and style to explore the history of the Borough, the present, and the possible future.

CRIPtic also responded to the chaos and isolation of the pandemic by working with Spread the Word to create Experimental! 2020. With this, we ran an accessible online writing retreat for deaf and disabled writers cross-genre. Featuring creative workshops led by Jamie Hale, Raymond Antrobus, Elsa Sjunneson and Anne Finger. We also had readings from Khairani Barokka, Kayla Whaley and Sara Nović. It was a space which was cohesive, inclusive, and productive – and it was immediately clear how necessary it was.

Our 2021 expansion

After that, in 2021, CRIPtic expanded into a year-round organisation.

Soon, we repeated the writing retreat. This time it featured Matilda Ibini, Omikemi, Charlotte Heather, Elle McNicoll, Nadia Nadarajah, Vici Wreford-Sinnott, Julie Farrell, Aliya Gulamani, and Daniel Sluman.

After that we ran a year-round development project. The CRIPtic Lead Artist Programme also worked with deaf and disabled creatives to undergo mentoring, workshops, and development support. To do this, we created an amazing team, and built up to our final 2021 showcase, hosted at the Barbican Centre.

Who was involved?

That programme and showcase was directed by Jamie Hale (mentored by Nickie Miles-Wildin), and the showcase was produced by Caitlin Richards Jess Kinsey, and Mik Scarlet. Lata Nobes was Associate Director, and Louis Kissaun was Creative Access Lead. The access team included Dot Alma, Adae Bajomo and Jacqui Beckford.

The performers were Sahera Khan, Oli Isaac (mentored by Robert Softley Gale), Alice Christina Corrigan (mentored by Amy Trigg), Tink Flaherty, Gold Maria Akanbi, Flawbored (Chloe Palmer, Samuel Brewer and Aarian Mehrabani), Tom Ryalls (performed by Jodie Mitchell), Miss Jacqui (mentored by Mandy Colleran and Jamie Hale), MC Geezer (mentored by Kris Halpin), and DJ Chinaman of Deaf Rave. There was also music composed by Rufus Isabel Elliott and Rylan Gleave.

We had workshops run by Arts Council England on applying for funding, Jess Thom on integrating creative access, Quiplash on integrated audio-description, Samuel Dore on creative captioning, David Ellington on integrating BSL, Martin O’Brien on “create a living diorama”, and Laura Horton on social media and PR.

We began and continued a salon for deaf and disabled writers with Spread the Word running every other month, with a creative workshop, a reading, and an open mic session. Workshops and readings have come from writers including Ayesha Chouglay, Sonny Nwachukwu, Inigo Purcell, Betty Doyle, Jamie Hale, Antonia Jade King, Hayleigh Barclay, Shannon Yee, Tom Ryalls, DL Williams, Jenny Alderton, and Penny Pepper.

The future

In 2022 we are running a year-round public programme of workshops and events – so why not check out what’s on? We also have an exciting project for four deaf and disabled-led arts organisations called Incubate