Friday, 31 May 2013

The Dinner Party

A little update on a fantastic project I was involved in April as part of my role as Blue Room Facilitator at the Bluecoat. We had the unmissable opportunity to collaborate with the Doors to Elsewhere, a wonderful group of performers with disabilities based at Rua Red with Tallaght Community Arts in South Dublin. The group invited Blue Room to be creative partners in a project called The Dinner Party: Not Just a Dublin Coddle, a performative event highlighting the excellent work of artists with disabilities and encouraging discussions about some of the barriers to participation and cultural acceptance that artists with disabilities may face. 

In the run up the event, Blue Room members worked very hard at the Bluecoat in Liverpool to design and create the visual elements of the Dinner Party which focussed on uniting the two cities. These included centrepieces featuring the ingredients of 'scouse' delicately rendered in wire and resin , napkin rings featuring claddagh symbols, party favours and even a huge glittering chandelier which hung in the centre of the performance space showing imagery from Liverpool and Dublin. Throughout the project we got to know the Doors To Elsewhere group by sharing videos and message on our shared blog. We were visited by the team of practitioners and producers from Tallaght  who were working to bring the project together, including Jennifer Webster, Jenny MacDonald and Tori Durrer. The visit was documented beautifully by filmmaker Aoibheann O'Sullivan. 

The time came to pack up our decorations and somehow get ourselves and a big chandelier across the Irish Sea to Dublin! The trip provided the opportunity for five Blue Room members to travel to Dublin as the project's ambassadors supported by myself and Blue Room Assistant Betty Ritchie. During our 5 day trip we had a wonderful time collaborating with the Doors to Elsewhere to develop performances and a music piece based on our shared explorations of Dublin.

On the night of the Dinner Party each of our artists showed astounding confidence in presenting their artwork and performances to the 60 guests who had travelled from far and wide to share a feast with us. We were treated to mesmerising dance performances from Stuart's Care Dancers and thought provoking speeches from key figures from the world of disability arts including Jenny Sealey, Padraig Naughton and Andrew Pike. 

The whole experience was a wonderfully enjoyable and memorable one. I was fortunate to meet so many fantastic artists and share experiences and ideas with other practitioners. I am grateful to have been working with Blue Room for the past 3 years and continue to feel very proud of the creative and personal achievements the participants continue to make with each new project. Blue Room recently celebrated its 5th birthday and the project continues to grow and develop with much ambition for the future.  

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