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Kaite O'Reilly - disability arts online
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Disability Arts Online

Cosy, quirky, honest, daring... / 1 June 2015

How we live and how we die has never been more topical or relevant to our ageing society that likes to pretend we’re immortal and forever young. It’s universal, as well as our last taboo – a fascinating and compelling subject.

This is why I’m delighted that I’ve been commissioned to write Cosy, a play that explores our obsessions with ageing, self-ownership, and end of life scenarios in the company of a dysfunctional family on the verge of killing one another, if not themselves.

Cosy is a commission from Unlimited, which describes itself as ‘a scheme for arts by disabled artists, delivered by Shape and Artsadmin, funded by Arts Council England, Arts Council of Wales, Creative Scotland and Spirit of 2012 to create high quality, extraordinary art by disabled artists and get that work seen by diverse audiences.’

I feel immensely honoured to receive this commission, especially as it is the sole Unlimited Commission for Wales. It will enable me to further develop the work-in-progress script then bring it to production, directed by Phillip Zarrilli and produced by Michael Salmon. Cosy will premiere in Wales in 2016 before going on tour and appearing at Unlimited festivals at the South Bank in London and Glasgow’s Tramway in September 2016.

I’ll be working with an inclusive company of six disabled and non-disabled female performers on a darkly humorous character-led play, exploring the means by which we shuffle off this mortal coil.

I want to handle this often feared topic with humorous irreverence, as well as sobriety and respect. What I love about humans is our ability to live joyfully and in the moment, despite the knowledge our time is finite and we will all die one day. How these two opposing perspectives co-exist will be fascinating to explore theatrically – and the deceptions, avoidances, contradictions and confrontations within a family with distinct and different ethical, religious, and political perspectives.

As someone who identifies as disabled, I have long been part of a vibrant community known for its joie de vivre and gallows humour – created, perhaps, from our knowledge of the fragility and resilience of the human body. I want to bring some of the quality of this insight and perspective to the script, in a production I hope will be funny, quirky, honest, daring, and fully engaging emotionally and intellectually.

It means a lot to have this opportunity, and it’s a real privilege to be amongst the gallery of outstanding Deaf and disabled commissioned artists in this round. To find out more about the other work commissioned, please go to: www.weareunlimited.org.uk/commissions/

This blog was reproduced with kind permission from Kaite O'Reilly. Please click on this link to visit the 'Cosy' blog.

Keywords: death and dying,diversity,exclusion,gallows humour,performing arts