The Crip Monologues.
curated by Jamie Hale
The crippled body is an object of disgust and fascination, delight and suspicion. Existing within one is an experience of being stared at, but rarely seen. Nobody wants to be caught staring at disabled people – what happens when they are?
Funded by Arts Council England, we commissioned 13 writers to create pieces for The Crip Monologues, 4 of which will be taken into R&D for 2024.
The pieces we selected felt like the kind of stories disabled people tell one another, rooted in a shared crip culture and understanding, with themes from astronomy to bodily autonomy, fame to sex, and self-love to motherhood. Read more about the writers below.
Sonera Theo Angel
Sonera is a nonbinary, mixed race, disabled actor and writer. Their work focuses on the line between identities and how people who are “a bit of both” can find their communities. Their acting work encompasses Netflix, HBO, BBC and Sky. Their writing is still overcoming stage fright and until now has mainly appeared in magazines like Şerābi and ‘101 contemporary artists and more.
Tom is a writer and theatre-maker mainly interested in how different imaginations are formed. They often write collaboratively, and explore class, disability, magical realism, astronomy, space, epilepsy and camp.
They are currently one of the 3 artists curating The Unfinished Archive at The Royal Court, and they were shortlisted for The Alpine Fellowship 2023. Their first book will be published in 2024.
Tom is a graduate of the Royal Court Writers’ Gorup, Oxford Playmaker, and holds an MA in Writing Musicals. They created “Can You See Into a Black Hole?” which has since been published and received an audit adaptation, “Education, Education, Karaoke” as part of Starting Blocks at Camden People’s Theatre, and created the “Karaoke-panto” concept. They have made work with Oxford Playhouse, The Royal Court, Barbican, ArtsDepot, TRSE, Slunglow, Camden People’s Theatre, Omnibus.
Athena Stevens is an acclaimed writer, performer director and social activist. She is the Artistic Director of Aegis Productions Ltd, writer on attachment at the Finborough Theatre.
In 2011 Athena made her west end debut, as a writer and actress, in The Amazing Vancetti Sisters and in 2016 her second play, Schism, had its world premiere at the Finborough Theatre. Schism transferred to the Park Theatre in 2018 for which production Athena was nominated for an Off West End Award Best Female Performance and for an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre.
In 2020 the world premiere of her third play Scrounger opened the Finborough Theatre’s 40th Anniversary season. The production garnered Athena Off West End Award nominations for Lead Performance In A Play and New Play.
Simone Roach is Jamaican-British and has spent most of her life living in the Netherlands. She was born with a progressive Disability which caused her to gradually lose the ability to walk and the mobility in her wrists and fingers. Simone performs spoken word poetry, creates artwork, and writes novels as she pursues a career in acting.
Simone writes about her experiences as a Black, Disabled, queer woman on her blog The Wheelchair Teen. Following the success of her website, she began public speaking to educate children about Disabilities. She has since spoken at numerous schools and venues. Simone has been interviewed about her activism work on multiple podcasts and the radio. She continues to fight for awareness of Disability culture, heritage, history, and pride.
Hayleigh Morrow is a writer based in the west coast of Scotland. Her debut novel, Girl of the Ashes, was published in 2020 under her previous name, Hayleigh Barclay. After many years as a disability rights campaigner, she feels passionate about promoting disability-led stories, and has accumulated a list of writing credits for flash fiction, articles, and now scripts, challenging ableist stereotypes. Her other projects include two supernatural series, The Witch’s Apprentice and an adaptation of her novel.
Lee Ridley (aka Lost Voice Guy) is the first stand-up comedian to use a communication aid. Lee won Britain’s Got Talent in 2018 and the BBC New Comedy Award in 2014. His TV and radio credits include Christmas Comedy Club With Lost Voice Guy (ITV), The Royal Variety Performance (ITV), Live At The Apollo (BBC Two), The Last Leg (Channel 4 and The Now Show (BBC Radio 4). Lee has co-written four series of Ability (BBC Radio 4) which he also stars in. Lee was named on The Shaw Trust’s Disability Power 100 List of the UK’s most influential disabled people in the UK in 2019, 2020 and 2022. Lee is an ambassador for Scope as well as being a patron of The Scott-Morgan Foundation, Smile For Life, Communication Matters and The Sequal Trust.
Dr Sarabajaya Kumar
Dr Sarabajaya Kumar is an interdisciplinary social science academic at University College London (UCL), an equalities consultant, and a disability activist. Her current research projects focus on disability, inclusive tech and artificial intelligence. She has received a GBSF Butterfield Award and a Churchill Fellowship for this work.
A Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA), she is also an accredited Executive Coach with extensive experience in coaching and mentoring social entrepreneurs.
A serial social entrepreneur, she has, over the past three decades, founded and co-founded several not-for-profit organisations, working in, or with, organisations and people experiencing disadvantage as a result of societal barriers.
Dan McIntyre is a novelist, travel writer, blogger and disability rights activist.
Originally from West Yorkshire, Dan now lives in East Ayrshire with his Fiancee Elizabeth. Having worked in IT support within the NHS for 25 years, Dan had to take ill-health retirement in 2022 and now spends his time working on a project named Journeys, a book about his physical travels around the UK and across Europe as well as his more intangible journeys through the mysteries of mental health, autism and disability issues
When not writing, Dan enjoys travelling, reading, photography and musical theatre, and has performed on stage. He is also partial to a challenge or two and has leaped off the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle on a zip line across the river, completed the Edinburgh marathon and climbed the stairs in Yorkshire’s tallest building, all from his wheelchair.
Britny Virginia is an international poet, writer, self-published author, director/producer of film and theatre and an international creative workshop facilitator. Born with Cerebral Palsy, Britny uses her passion for the arts and her own lived experience to ensue confidence in others who have similar experiences as herself. Her work centres around disability, culture and faith. She has worked with the likes of Graeae Theatre Company, Crown Boys Mentoring Jamaci Project, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, RISE Collective, St. Lucia Youth Development and Sports, Greenwich Docklands International Festival, Theatre Peckham and Almeida Theatre to name a few.
Eloise Pennycott is an actor, writer, and fight director from the Southeast of England. Much of her work playfully (and sometimes painfully…) interrogates the deaf and/or queer experience. With a background in political activism, Eloise enjoys theatre that makes people feel itchy, angry, and motivated. Her previous credits as a writer include Barrier(s) (NATIONAL THEATRE), Butterflies (DEAFINITELY YOUTH THEATRE), Babel (HIGH TIDE THEATRE). As an actor, Eloise has worked with companies including Amazon Prime, BBC Kids & Families, Leeds Playhouse, Shakespeare’s Globe.
Greg is an award-winning playwright from Newport who has seen his work performed on stages that range from Bristol Old Vic to Theatre 503. Greg has written a number of short films for television and have used this experience to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to find their voice through film. He was runner up in the BBC/NTW Writer in Residence Award as well as being one of the BBC Welsh Voices and Sherman Cymru Unheard Voices. In the past year he has written for BBC Radio 4, Galwad, Theatr Clwyd and Dirty Protest amongst others. Greg was also shortlisted for the Unlimited Open Awards 2022/23.
Sasha Saben Callaghan is a visual artist, writer and spoken word performer, living in Edinburgh. She was a winner of the 2016 ‘A Public Space’ International Emerging Writer Fellowship, the 2019 national Pen to Paper Awards and the 2022 Stephen Palmer Travel Bursary. Sasha’s work has been performed at the Edinburgh Fringe and Anatomy and she writes a monthly blog ‘Breath. Blood. Bone.’ for Disability Arts Online. Her illustrations have featured in a wide range of journals, magazines, and exhibitions, including Shape Open 2020, IAN Australia 2021, Plus Tate 2022 and Fife Contemporary 2023. Sasha’s lived experience of disability and impairment is a major influence on her work.
Emily Brenchi is a 32-year-old disabled writer and actor living in South East London. She gained a BA in English and Drama in 2012 and is interested in exploring ideas around disability and the body on the page. Her photographs appear in her husband Daniel Sluman’s T.S. Eliot shortlisted collection single window and her poems feature in places such as the Anthology of Illness (The Emma Press, 2020) and disability journal Wordgathering. In 2022 she co-edited issue 16 of Butcher’s Dog poetry magazine.