The idea for CRIPtic began with Transpose. This was CN Lester’s groundbreaking showcase of trans artists, founded in 2011, and based at the Barbican Centre. Jamie Hale performed there, and then did an R&D residency to develop the work that became their show: NOT DYING. This later won them the Evening Standard Future Theatre Fund Award for Directing/Theatremaking.
In 2018 Jamie pitched to the Barbican to create a showcase of d/Deaf and disabled artists based on the Transpose Model. The Barbican agreed, and CRIPtic began – showcasing six emerging creatives, with NOT DYING as its central show.
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 d/Deaf and disabled people – from the composer for NOT DYING (Lucy Hale, who sadly died in Jan 2021) to the pianist (Stephan Ellenberger). Everyone worked together, especially the jaw-droppingly excellent performers: Signkid, Jackie Hagan, Amelia Cavallo as Tito Bone, DL Williams, Jessi Parrott, Elle Chante and Katie Walters.
In 2020, COVID hit, and Jamie Hale worked on a creative response. This including partnering with Spread the Word on a Lewisham Council funded project titled Poetry and Place. The project brought people from across the Borough of Lewisham together through a postal poetry course. This was a series of poetry packs, with poems, exercises, and creative feedback. As a community project, it built cohesion and reduce isolation at a difficult time.
CRIPtic also responded to the chaos and isolation of the pandemic by working with Spread the Word to create Experimental! 2020. It was an accessible online writing retreat for d/Deaf and disabled writers cross-genre. Featuring creative workshops led by Jamie Hale, Raymond Antrobus, Elsa Sjunneson and Anne Finger, and readings from Khairani Barokka, Kayla Whaley and Sara Nović. As a space, it was cohesive, inclusive, and productive – and it was immediately clear how necessary it was.
CRIPtic is a mixture of all of those projects. We have the showcase of CRIPtic at the Barbican, but we saw that we needed to offer more than that. We needed to create work that reaches out to individuals and communities, not just to people who are already artists. This is why we became an organisation – and one that reaches out to everyone – from community activities to high-level training. Everyone deserves to see how the arts could change their life. That is what CRIPtic is about.