This site now acts as an archive only. For the latest news, opinion, blogs and listings on disability arts and culture visit disabilityarts.online.

Disability Arts Online

> > Penny Pepper

Pains and Pleasures

I'm buzzing and giggling. 11 pm and I've dropped off Jo Cox, my cellist, who plays musical accompaniment to my spoken word. It went rather well and I have that sense of satisfaction spreading a warm happy glow about my being, that feeling of knowing when you've done something you are meant to do, what you are about. And that it was thankfully, rather marvellous.

Dialzero is an artists' collective (www.dialzero.org/news/html) currently curating an exhibition and performance evenings at Ada Street Gallery in Hackney, London. Through a series of connections I was invited to do a large chunk of my spoken word set 'Pains and Pleasures'. Working with Jo on the longer set for the first time, we started with 'Bums, Hells and Homes', a theatrically presented piece in which I am Samantha, a 35 year old disabled woman, holding a flat warming party at her first home. It's an intense 15 minute piece, with different tones and varying pace. Ultimately character based, and told through free form poetic language, I am pleased that the audience respond to the universal themes. Then a few lighter poems to make them laugh to end the set. It was filmed and I hope to uploaded some of it soon.

Very happy and appreciative that a few friends made it, but also chuffed that strangers came up to me afterwards with interest and congratulations.

The most valuable – and welcome – comments are that it made them think. laugh and question. What more can a writer hope for?

One friend wanted more, and more. Said I was class, and the best of the evening. Biased she may be, but it's still lovely to hear that!

Posted by Colin Hambrook, 13 May 2009

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 18 May 2009

Disability Film Festival in Wolverhampton ... amongst other things ...

One reason for my lack of blog has been a period of intense activity in all the multiplying strands of my life. Things have always rolled through peaks and troughs for me, and in the last few months this has never been more true.

I wrote about Independent Living Funds. The powerlessness these enforced 'social care' systems can impose on us. At a personal level, this has now had some closure, but I am more aware at how others battle on and how those who can speak out, must.

These human rights to be, to live, to flourish are fundamental and while I've always believed this, in these times when we are undermined up to the point of legalised murder being pushed as a solution to perceived challenges, I have never felt so passionate in defending and extending these rights.

But what's else have I been up to? There's been fabulous, hilarious times working with Katherine Araniello, and making the trip to Paul Darke's Disability Film Festival in Wolverhampton, a few weeks back. I met and had a great (but all too brief) catch up chat with artist Tanya Raabe after far too long a gap, and Katherine and Aaron Williamson put together a very funny performance piece for the fest.

I trailed around filming them and various with my lovely new camera. I've gotten that bug, all the way back to the punk ethic of DIY art culture. While I've written scripts for some years to try and mainstream it, now I have a camera, watch this space! As a fluffy taster, do have a peep at my films on [YouTube](http://www.youtube.com/user/PenPepper ). These were made on what is effectively a cheap pocket digi stills cam, so just wait till I get to full grips with the Sony camcorder.

I'm laying in bed, it's almost midnight, remembering that tomorrow there's worky work. Participation in a workshop, and then oooooh, in the evening the excitement of a big 25 minute spoken word performance. I drift off, feeling the little curls of anxiety I always get as a gig draws closer. This is me out of my comfort zone; not in the safe confines of disability art. But it's also me, attempting entry into the mainstream, as always, to subvert and provoke. It has to be done.

Will they like my Bus poem? Here's a sample verse – read with a staccato beat:

There's a trolley in the crip space / There's a child snotty faced / Bullish buggy hellish mummy / Disposition far from sunny

I drift off to sleep thinking I will end with this piece, as it is upbeat but also there's a bit of crip politics in there too!

Posted by Colin Hambrook, 12 May 2009

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 21 September 2009