The Crip Monologues

While we’ve been plugging away at a wide range of projects here at CRIPtic – from the NOT DYING soundtrack to workshops on writing and staging solo work. We are very excited to announce that Jamie Hale, our Artistic Director and playwright-performer of NOT DYING (Lyric Hammersmith, Barbican Centre), which won the Evening Standard Director/Theatremaker of the Year award in 2020, is working on a new project: The Crip Monologues.

Hear more from Jamie below:

The kernel of the idea emerged from two places. The first was the Vagina Monologues and the Butch Monologues, and the second was the staging (directed by Jamie) of Tink Flaherty’s film Wacko at the Barbican Centre in 2021.

The Vagina Monologues, by Eve Ensler and The Butch Monologues, by Libro Levi Bridgeman, collect a series of short monologues. These are written by a variety of people who identify as women (for the Vagina Monologues) or as butch / with the term ‘butch’ (for the Butch Monologues). They are then performed by a set of performers, who may or may not have written the monologues they’re reading.

Tink Flaherty’s film is about self-hitting, and is both a beautiful and a brutal piece of art at the same time. When we screened it as part of CRIPtic 2021, Tink sat on the stage, looking at the audience, staring at them as they stared at the film. This made it harder for them to distance themselves from the film, or to see it as a spectacle, because Tink was always there watching steadily.

With the Crip Monologues I’m building on both of these concepts. I’m interested in how crips with ‘divergent’ bodies and physical difference are stared at in public, how the theatre is a place that invites staring, but how it also permits the performer to stare back. By writing and/or commissioning a series of monologues by crips about their experiences, and then lining up performers to read those monologues I’m inviting the audience to engage with our words – but I’m inviting them to do it while we’re naked (or nearly naked).

This confronts the audience with what our bodies look like – both inviting and forcing them to stare – but also be seen staring by the performers. It puts the control of the staring into our hands, and lets us own it.

The monologues are about the experience of being crips – whatever that means to the individual. They’re an invite into a flash of our reality – but also one that is boundaried by the way in which the audience is being watched.

The piece has received a seed commission from Camden People’s Theatre and will go into an R&D process in early August – so we’re doing lots of work to get it ready. Focused on two, very different, monologues, we’ve built in embedded audio-description, and are designing creative captions that fit each piece, so we can use the R&D process to work on timing and delivery of these two monologues.

After that, where next? We want to have the funding to take the piece into development and rehearsal, with the goal of collecting monologues from crips nationally, and creating a lineup of performers to read those monologues – and making a show of it.

How exciting!