Disability in the Arts

Posted - June 2018 in HSPRF News

Kate Hood gives keynote address at international conference

 

Kate Hood

Actor, arts and disability activist, and HSP community member, Kate Hood of Melbourne, gave a keynote address at an international conference on the Arts and Disability in Singapore recently.

 

She spoke about the approach to people with disability in the arts, using her own journey, including initiatives to create opportunities for people with disability, and the need for society at large to recognise and remove barriers.

 

Here is an article on her from the Singapore Straits Times:

 

For over 20 years, Australian Kate Hood had a glistening career as an actress, writer and director.

She performed for major theatres like Melbourne Theatre Company, acted in films and TV series, and also directed arts festivals, including Melbourne Fringe and Brisbane Festival.

In 2002, at age 43, her world crumbled.

She was diagnosed with hereditary spastic paraplegia, a genetic disorder that progressively weakens the legs.

“I actually had it since the day I was born, but I didn’t have many symptoms till I was in my late 30s,” Ms Hood told The Straits Times. “It took five years for anyone to give me a concrete diagnosis.”

What followed was grief and uncertainty about her future. She said: “It immediately made me go into grief because I thought ‘what would this mean for my life?'”

Ms Hood started moving around with a walking stick, and then two.

“I clung on to the bits of the performing arts that I could do. I went to the recording studio and worked as a recording artist. I narrated in audio books and I worked in commercial voiceover studios,” she said.

Eventually, she stopped getting work offers.

“The message I got from my industry was that the door was closed to me now that I could no longer work on stage as an actor,” she said. “I felt like I dove in and hit the bottom of the pool.

“And I had nowhere to go but up from that point. Suddenly, I had nothing more to lose.”

Refusing to take no for an answer, Ms Hood started advocating for actors with disability, wrote her own productions and performed at festivals.

In 2016, she put up a stage performance with actors with disability as well as able-bodied ones. And in the same year, she formed Raspberry Ripple Productions, a disability-led theatre company.

“I formed Raspberry Ripple in response to a call in our performing arts industry in Australia,” she said “Disabled performers were not seen at all in the mainstream performing arts. And nobody has seen a disability-led theatre company.

Ms Hood was one of 400 local and international delegates, which included social service sector professionals, policy makers and artists with disabilities.

In her keynote speech, Ms Hood said: “The barriers put in place by a world designed for normal people disable us far more than our bodies ever will.”

Read the entire article …

 

SOURCE: The Straits Times on March 26, 2018 https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/setting-the-stage-for-performers-with-disability

 

Setting the stage for performers with disability

 

Rahimah Rashith

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