THE LEAD STAR Outlets
Vol 6 Issue 35, Aug 28 - Sep 3, 2015
    Citizen Reporters      |   | Submit Story
Green WarriorsSocial EntrepreneursUnsung Heroes

He uses theatre to sensitise people to the differently-abled

   By  Sahana Ghosh
   Kolkata
05 Sep 2015
Posted 12-Jan-2013
Vol 4 Issue 2

Offering a glimpse of what cerebral palsy patients go through via mime, hand model performance and dance theatre, British performer Andrew Dawson feels people's perception towards the differently -abled is "beginning to change".

"It is beginning to change. A big change happened in London because of the (Aug-Sep 2012) Paralympics. People in London embraced the Paralympics more than they did the real Olympics," said Dawson, who was in the city to demonstrate his concept.

Dawson feels being abled or disabled depends on "how you function in the world" (Photo: IANS)

Dawson, 50, who has trained in dance, mime and theatre in London and Paris, as also in the US, has ventured off the beaten path of commercial theatre to sensitise others to the subtle differences of being abled and disabled and has presented over 20 case studies on stage - poignant representations of patients afflicted with cerebral palsy in the last five years.

"I use my body as a channel to show people, to make them understand what it's like to have cerebral palsy and other such diseases and what they go through. Hopefully, people will have a better understanding," Dawson explained.

According to Dawson, being abled or disabled depends on "how you function in the world".

"We could probably have a debate on the topic. Since they don't do things that appear to be normal they are labelled as being disabled. Some people with disability function very well, play the piano with their feet because they can't with their hands. That doesn't make them disabled, it means they can play the piano and I can't.

"We are all disabled and abled in certain ways. There is a very subtle difference," Dawson added.

Dawson's initial purpose was to "express ideas in theatre without language". He learned the Feldenkrais method - a somatic educational system designed by Israeli physicist Moshe Feldenkrais that aims to reduce pain or limitations in movement.

"Feldenkrais has nothing to do with theatre, but it helps to keep your body in good shape, which is needed in theatre. While thinking about the awareness of your own body through Feldenkrais, you start thinking about people who have disabilities or actual conditions and that's how I met neurologist Jonathan Cole and we thought it would be interesting to look at the patients from an artist's point of view," said Dawson who has performed in the US, Canada and various European countries.

For the last five years, he has been painstakingly putting together acts incorporating mime movements, hand model techniques and theatre performances after extensive interaction with the patients.

"Hand model performance uses detailed movements of hands and arms, but I am not just using my hands but all of me through mime and theatre too. It's like a cross between a lecture and a drama. I talk to you, show you a little film, perform a little something, but all of it represents being half of what we are," Dawson said.

His performances, aided by pre-recorded voiceovers from the patients, paint an intricate picture of how they go about their day-to-day activities.

"I interact with them. Just talk a lot. Observe a lot - how they do regular stuff, eat and drink and then put together that on stage, being very careful that it doesn't end up being a mockery. I make sure they get to see what I have put together in the final stage act," Dawson explained.

From mainstream theatre to "making a difference" for the patients, Dawson feels it helps him to know himself better.

"I do it because I don't really understand myself. It is a realisation of the self, of how extraordinary it is to be anything at all, how extraordinary is it to walk and talk," Dawson elaborated on his second visit to India for a performance at a programme to create awareness on mental ability, an initiative of The Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance.

Another thing he finds extraordinary is the special relationship Indians have with spaces and their surroundings.

"People squat on the floor here. They sleep on it, whereas in the West this doesn't exist. Indians are very aware of spaces like walls and floors and aware of their own movements. It's fascinating," said Dawson who also trained in Indian classical dance form as a teenager. - IANS



Print  |  Email  | 
 Share   


You might also like:

Zooming ahead

Formed in January this year on Facebook, Bikernis is not just a group of Indian female bikers; for these women, who have defied gender stereotypes, motorcycles are an extension of their selves

Read More

Border crossing

Pakistani actress Sarwat Gilani would love to do an Indian project, film or TV. She remembers India whenever it rains in Karachi, she told Sandeep Sharma, opening up on her Indian connections

Read More
Stories on Innovations & Innovators
THE LEAD STAR
adyar bakery
 
Mentoring Tamil Nadu



Popular Stories

The transformer

Irrigation wells, schools, a weavers’ cooperative and many such schemes have transformed villages in Maharashtra’s Sangli and Kolhapur districts. But Arun Chavan, the man behind it all, is not known outside the area, says Kavita Kanan Chandra

Read More

A real motivator

Former President A P J Abdul Kalam not just asked the youth to dream but also motivated people, helping them realise their dreams. P C Vinoj Kumar has the story of former army driver V Kathiresan becoming assistant professor, thanks to Kalam

Read More

People’s bridge

The new 225 feet long bridge across river Ghaggar, linking the villages of Panihari and Alikan in Haryana, is a model project. Costing Rs 1.5 crore, the bridge is an example of a people’s initiative, funded by the public, says Partho Burman

Read More

Barefoot protector

From a ‘crying bed’ that alerts mom to change baby’s diaper to ‘auto-safe’ helmet making distress call in the event of an accident, Rudra Narayan Mukherjee has fabricated a plethora of devices from a tin-roof lab, says Santosh H K Narayan

Read More

Poverty’s child

Once a domestic help, it is just natural that Anuradha Bhosale dedicated her life to protect children from exploitation. Kavita Kanan Chandra tells us how she charted her path out of poverty through education and work among child labourers

Read More

Chicken dream

It is sheer grit and determination that took B Soundararajan, MD of Suguna Holdings, to such dizzy heights. P C Vinoj Kumar meets the man, whose poultry business makes a turnover of Rs 5500 crore

Read More

A grandpa’s story

At 97, Sudhanshu Biswas is a busy man. Taking care of 50 boys and 6 senior citizens, meticulously monitoring if they are served food on time and so on, at his home near Kolkata, he keeps visitors waiting. G Singh found the waiting worthwhile

Read More

Caring by habit

A Chennai woman’s simple gesture of donating the money she gets from selling old newspapers, collected from homes, to two orphanages is an inheritance from her parents, who always took care of poor youth at their home, says P C Vinoj Kumar

Read More

From scratch

ConceptWaves is a successful company. But 10 years ago its founder Raghu Kanchustambham launched his first project as his team was falling apart. Sapna Gopal traces the entrepreneur’s journey

Read More

Lavender dream

Realising that medicine was not her calling, Gazalla Amin pursued a dream to cultivate aromatic plants, never to look back, says Afsana Rashid, explaining the blossoming of entrepreneurship

Read More
 
Kudos image

"The Weekend Leader not only gives a glimpse of the better things happening around us but also tells stories of people who made it possible.”

Ajay Chaturvedi, Entrepreneur More Kudos
 
Archives  |   Columns  |   About Us  |   Contact Us  |   Feedback  |   Response  |     |   Cheers!  |   Support Us  |   Friends of Positive Journalism
© Copyright The Weekend Leader.com, 2010. All rights reserved.