Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Kaite O'Reilly- Perceiving the World Differently

Kaite O'Reilly

Suddenly I Disappear , South Bank, then Cardiff & Touring , September 6, 2018
Kaite O'Reilly by Suddenly I Disappear “And Suddenly I Disappear” is winner of the Elliott Hayes award for outstanding achievement in dramaturgy. It plays at the South Bank this week. Kaite O'Reilly was also at the South Bank two Septembers back to the day. That occasion was a discussion event to accompany her play collection “Atypical Plays for Atypical Actors.” With many long-standing collaborators present she had, she said, managed a twin-track life in theatre.

In fact it is more than that. She was crucial for National Theatre of Wales in its Year of 13. Her role then was to render Aeschylus into a workable, impactful language for today. The collaborations with Philip Zarrilli, via the Llanarth Group, have provided touring theatre for Wales of utter distinctiveness. Sara Beer in their “Richard III Redux” toured earlier this year.

And the theatre has travelled. “Mandel & Seepferdchen” was to be seen at the Franconia State Theatre in 2016. “Told by the Wind”, reviewed October 2016, has been seen in Japan, USA, Germany, Poland and Portugal. “Playing the Maids”, March 2015, was a three-way production with Gaitkrash & P’yut with actors from Cork, Singapore and Seoul.

The production, starting in London this week, belongs to her D-monologues, fictional soliloquies on disability, difference and diversity. It has occasioned an interview with “the Guardian.” Kaite O'Reilly is also author of a blog which stands out as that of a writer. In interview the voice is pointed. In excerpt:

“What is normal? What is normal for you, isn’t normal for me. We’re so limited by these ideas of normalcy, what it is to be human...There are so few good parts for people who are different, whose bodies don’t conform.”

“...I took people’s hopes, fears, thoughts, lived experiences, and used them to inform a fictional monologue. There are lots of different opinions: some people say ‘I’m not disabled, I don’t want to be called disabled’ because they may have a very different perspective from someone like me.”

“I decided I wanted to write work that challenges the normal perception of what it is to be disabled. I’m perceiving the world differently because of the particular body and senses I have. I’m grateful that I can really explore disability, and the political and cultural perspective that brings.”

“Disabled characters are often metaphors or tropes, representing very negative aspects of what it is to be human. So you’re evil personified, or you’re piteous or you’re helpless, or, since the 2012 Olympics, it’s gone the other way, we’re inspirational – ‘The extraordinary bodies, look what they can overcome!’”

“If you work as I do, from the political perspective, it’s the social model of disability, you don’t see the idiosyncracies of the body that disable us, what disables us are the barriers, both attitudinal and physical, in society, so it’s a social construct. I don’t want to engage with stories about overcoming your challenges to be an inspiration for the non-disabled. And I also get very frustrated about these all of these cliches have persisted for centuries, like if you’re blind you’ll have a second sight.”

The full interview, which should be read, is at:

“And Suddenly I Disappear” plays Chapter 11-12 September

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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