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This is Not a Safe Space: a show about the truth of disability in the modern world – Disability Horizons

Tuesday, 20 March, 2018

This is Not a Safe Space: a show about the truth of disability in the modern world – Disability Horizons

Award-winning poet and performer Jackie Hagan’s latest show, This is Not a Safe Space, explores the impact of benefit cuts on disabled peopled and those living on the margins of society. Carrie Aimes talks to Jackie about her creative mix of poetry, puppetry, stand-up comedy and audience participation, which draws on first-person interviews with 80 working-class people.

With an emphasis on class, mental health and disability, Hagan’s performances celebrate the weird and wonky lives of those excluded from the mainstream. Jackie Hagan describes herself as a queer, bipolar amputee, raised on a council estate. Her work seeks to challenge the ways in which current society relentlessly stereotypes working-class, disabled individuals.

Following on from her previous success with the solo show Some People Have Too Many Legs and her play Cosmic Scallies, this theatre maker once again intertwines spiky humour and quirky expression, resulting in a passionate, provocative and affecting production.

Jackie, could you please tell Disability Horizons readers about your disability and how it has affected you and your career?

I am partially sighted, have bipolar disorder and a life-limiting autoimmune disease. Then, in 2013, I had to have my leg amputated following a series of blood clots and infections. Before that, I had already been writing and performing for some time and had always been a disabled performer. But, having one leg is something people can get their heads around a lot better – people like something they can see – and so it attracted a lot of attention.

As such, now when people invite me to diversity events, it’s usually to talk about the leg. I often open with a leg gag and then go on to talk about invisible disabilities or class.

How and why did you become a poet and performer?

When my mum was 16 she moved from the thrill and glitter of Liverpool to an isolated new town to have my brother and me. Because it was so quiet, she herself had to become a ‘disco’ – she became the thrill and glitter.

This meant I grew up unafraid to speak my mind. Being open and honest and saying what I think is natural for me. I wasn’t ever encouraged to toe the line or be normal.

How does your class, background and disability influence your work?

It means I’ve always got a cob on and have loads to say that doesn’t often get said. I’ve got council estate bones and they rattle when someone slags off a young lad for dealing or looting or having a big massive telly.

I understand why this stuff happens. I’m not saying we’re saints – I’m not an idiot. But I’m closer to the action, so I can talk in a measured way about the real reasons behind it. I can give you stories and images that aren’t exaggerated or underplayed. I know what I’m on about.

Obviously, it also means that I have come up against a tonne of prejudice. There are often moments where people tilt their head to one side and patronisingly say things like; “aw, is this because you’re in a wheelchair?” It’s all total bollocks and the most satisfying way to get your point across and show you’re right is by being awesome.

Click here to read full article http://disabilityhorizons.com/2018/03/this-is-not-a-safe-space-a-show-about-the-truth-of-disability-in-the-modern-world/

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