Matilda!

Earlier this week I went to London, had a wander round by myself (getting slightly lost) and then met up with friends (including a very excited almost 7 year old) and we went to a matinee of Matilda the Musical.

It was fab.  I did expect it to be funnier than it was – I had high expectations for that because Tim Minchin who is a musical comedian (and one of my favourites) wrote the lyrics. But when I thought about it afterwards he’s known for clever humour. And this was certainly fully of clever lyrics with humour woven in.  I would much rather have that than it be full of cheap humour.

The staging and the effects were brilliant and the songs catchy and fab. I’ve downloaded the soundtrack and been listening to it a lot since I got home.  It’s a couple of years since I’ve seen a musical and wanted the soundtrack (although to be fair the last musical I saw was Mamma Mia and I already had the film soundtrack or I’d have got that) The cast, especially the kids were spot on.  It just worked really well which given that three of the last nine or so musicals and the last play I’ve seen have been disappointing was brilliant.

I would highly recommend going to see the show and it’s definitely going on my list of shows to see again if it tours.

Third Time Lucky? Yes.

Just wanted to post a quick blog to say that it was indeed third time lucky and I not only made it to Birmingham yesterday but there were no problems at the theatre and after a lunch at Pizza Express Rachel and I were able to see Dirty Dancing.

It was good!  It wasn’t what I was expecting and wasn’t the most musical like musical I’ve ever seen but I enjoyed it and I’m glad we went.  I’d say that I’m not adding the soundtrack to the vast collection of musical soundtracks that fills my iTunes library but I seem to remember saying that after another friend and I saw Shrek last year and then about six weeks later I did buy the soundtrack after listening to it on youtube a few times.  So I’ll just say I don’t think I’ll be buying the soundtrack.

And as always Birmingham Hippodrome was very accessible.  It’s so quick and easy to get to from New Street station too so I think we’ll probably go to something there again.

Third Time Lucky?

There are many things I could write about for BADD this year.  Incidents from this week included as well as things from a while ago and just general observations.

I could tell you about being screamed at in the middle of mcdonalds for taking too long in the disabled toilet.

I could tell you about the person who called my parents when she couldn’t get me on the phone (I was at CAB and apparently the call was too urgent to wait)

Those are my two things from this week.  But mostly I’m thinking about tomorrow.

I am – hopefully – going to see Dirty Dancing with my friend Rachel who I was at uni with.  I know that Rach is looking forward to it.  I’d say I’m looking forward to it but that would be a lie.  I’m looking forward to seeing Rach.  To lunch at Pizza Express and a catch up.

But I’m looking at the emails we’ve been sending sharing train times and plans and seeing the “We’ll have the time of our lives” she’s signed a couple of emails off with.  And it makes me smile.  But I also wonder if we actually will.  Will we get there?  Or will it be yet another shitty experience of disablism from a theatre?

Because this will be my third attempt to see Dirty Dancing.

I was supposed to go see it in December in the theatre in Oxford.  For my birthday. The whole sorry story was blogged about in my blog post from January titled “Attitude is Everything” with a little bit of a funny follow up in another post titled “I believe

Basically the lift in the theatre broke, they were appalling at getting it sorted and kept implying it was my decision not to see the show when I refused to use their alternate access for genuine fear of being killed by it.  It was the most ridiculous thing and the worst incidence of disablism I’ve experienced in a very long time – not least because it was somewhere I’ve enjoyed going for years and previously had very good times at and good access/inclusion experiences.  Those previous experiences made it worse because they were so unexpected.

And it ruined my birthday.

That lift was then fixed only to break again on the day we should have made a second attempt at seeing it. And more ridiculouslessness ensued.

I’ve been joking with people that this time it’ll be fine – after all Birmingham Hippodrome has two lifts!

But it’s the evening before my third attempt and I find myself worrying that maybe it won’t.

I can accept that my experiences with the theatre in Oxford mean I can’t go to musicals as often any more because I don’t feel safe going there now.  But if the same were to happen with Birmingham not as often would become basically never and that would be very upsetting.

It’s probably a ridiculous and unnecessary worry.  But it’s the scar that disablism has left behind.

M is for…

M is for Musicals!

I love, love, love musicals.

I quite like theatre in general but musicals are where my heart really lies.  I’ve seen a great meany in the theatre and I own a lot of soundtracks and listen to them often.  Several musicals I’ve seen more than once.

Here is a not exhaustive list of musicals I’ve seen

Cats (twice)

Grease (maybe 4 times?)

Rocky Horror (three times)

Legally Blonde

The Full Monty

The Sound of Music (twice)

Avenue Q

Sister Act

Fame (twice)

Hairspray

Blood Brothers

Rent

Wicked

Evita

Ghost

Shrek

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (can’t remember if that’s twice or three times)

Les Miserables

The Lion King

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

We Will Rock You (twice)

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Mary Poppins

Oliver

Westside Story

Barnum

Chicago (two or three times)

Hmm actually that may be an exhaustive list.  It’s certainly longer than I thought it would be and as I was writing it more kept coming to mind.  And at least one new musical will be added to that list this year – Dirty Dancing.  Plus, I hope to go see The Bodyguard in the summer.

There are still several musicals I’ve not seen that I’d love to – Matilda the Musical and Billy Elliot to name just two. Some of the musicals I’ve loved so much I’ve seen multiple times – (Grease I had said after three times I’d had my fill of but then a few years later I had a spur of the moment opportunity to see a friend of a friend in an am dram performance).  Some I’d love to see again (Wicked, Sister Act and Legally Blonde) are probably the top three on that list. Les Mis would be if it toured. And one or two didn’t live up to expectations, particularly Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Full Monty (mostly because the ruined that by changing the setting from Sheffield to somewhere in America).

I believe

On Saturday I wrote about our attempts to go see Dirty Dancing in December.

I was going to write about it but then I had another story to share (this story) and I needed to mention in passing the Dirty Dancing disaster. And I ended up writing so much that it took over the entry.

So we tried and failed to go see Dirty Dancing. And then there was much discussion about whether we would try and go see it somewhere else. It had already been to Milton Keynes so that was out.  It’s still to go to Birmingham Hippodrome however. But some of the group point blank couldn’t afford to pay for train all the way to Birmingham and a theatre ticket. And others weren’t bothered about going particularly if it involved the trek into Birmingham (just about an hour and ten minutes from Oxford, roughly two hours from here by the time you’ve waited the twenty ish minutes it usually is between the trains).  Looked like this wasn’t going to happen.

“Arse.” thinks I.

Disappointing but not much I could do.

Then I went to Birmingham and met up with my friend Rachel.  We’ve been friends since my first year at uni and used to meet up regularly. It had been about three years since we last saw each other. One of the things we’ve done there before is go to the theatre.  And Dirty Dancing is one of her favourite films.

“Hmmm… I wonder.” I thought as I remembered that fact while sat on the train..

And after discussion whilst wandering The Bullring and emails once we were back in our respective homes a plan was born.  Eventually the “Get Emma to Dirty Dancing” plan was back on in a very different form.

So I found myself phoning Birmingham Hippodrome.

It took a while to negotiate their various press this for whatever and 2 for that menus and then I found myself on hold.

The hold music was the soundtrack to Shrek the Musical.  I went to see that in Oxford in November otherwise I’d have suggested Rach and I try for that as well as Dirty Dancing.

I love singing along to music.  And I was really excited about the possibility that I really would not only go but actually see Dirty Dancing this time – the Hippodrome has two lifts so broken lifts shouldn’t be a problem there. So I wasn’t really paying too much attention but I was enjoying the Shrek soundtrack as it’s one one I own and sort of vaguely quietly singing/humming along without really thinking about it.  “I believe! I! Believe!” and the like.

Then the call answered and I stopped before they heard.  Tickets booked and an email winging it’s way to Rachel then on with my day.

Until I remembered that at CAB it always used to be the case (and may still be but I haven’t done phone advice in several years since they changed the system and it became a specific skill) that when we put the phone on hold the person on the other end couldn’t hear us but we could still hear them.

Yes. That might not have been my finest moment.

I’ve decided to not care and just focus on the “yay! going to see Dirty Dancing.”

But it’s not a mistake I’ll be repeating.

(and for the record the many times since then I’ve had various songs from Shrek blasting out via YouTube and sung along were not mistakes. Even though my upstairs neighbour is probably now well aware of the fact that I’m a believer).

 

Hate isn’t Funny Part Three

It’s not really appropriate to call this post Hate Isn’t Funny part three because I don’t think it was really about hate just about clueless people not thinking things through properly.  But the two posts I wrote on the same subject in February were about hate and I called them Hate isn’t Funny so it feels right to use that title for this and continue the series even if it probably isn’t the best title for this particular anecdote. /end nonsensical ramble about blog titles.

Back in February I went to see Omid Djalili and his show was quite ableist and frankly in a couple of places full of hate.  I wrote about that in Hate isn’t Funny and then had some discussion with him via twitter which I wrote about in Hate isn’t Funny part two. That saga didn’t have the ending I wanted it to have but it had the best ending it was probably possible for it to have if that makes sense.

I’ve been to a couple of musicals since then and one comedy show which was funny and generally not noteworthy at all in terms of disability.

On Sunday my friend Angela and I went to see Showstopper – the improvised musical.  Generally I liked it.  For me personally it could have been better simply because they asked the audience to list several musicals which would influence the show.  The ones chosen by the audience were all older ones – none of which I’d seen and only one or two I’d heard of.  So several of the references went over my head which was a shame.  Angela said to me afterwards that one of the musicals she thought the cast didn’t know either. But the singing was good and I liked the improvised plot they came up with and how it ended up.

Every so often they would stop and ask how they should show they’d been influenced by  a particular musical and for one of the musicals (Tommy) someone shouted out a character should be blind.  So for the rest of the show one of the characters was pretending to be blind and frankly overkilling it and coming across and pretty damn ableist.  Amongst other things frequently nearly walking into the audience or props or whatever and having to be grabbed.  For about the first couple of minutes it was OK and then it got to be inappropriate and ridiculous.

Then it was the interval and they asked that people tweet them with suggestions of how the show should continue.  I tweeted:

 

This is somewhat made worse by the fact that a lady I didn’t know followed me and Angela into the lift to go down to the bar and heard me comment about the inappropriateness of the blind bit. She commented that she has a visual impairment and felt like she was being mocked. It’s not my disability so I didn’t feel I was being mocked personally but I thought it was a good description for what it seemed they were doing. We talked to her for a bit and did general interval stuff.

And then we went back in the show and they read various tweets out and continued on and it was mostly good but they really needed to kill the cripping up going on it the blind bit and kill it dead.

As we left and wandered out Angela’s route to her car and my route to my flat both taking us the same way for a couple of minutes I shared with her that I should probably blog about the incident and do something about it (more of a complaint) but I really couldn’t be bothered to. Because it felt like once again something I could fight and wouldn’t get anywhere and I’d waste energy on something unnecessary. Better to just decide that I didn’t want to see them again if they were going to be ableist was my thinking.

Then Monday afternoon I went on twitter and found this tweet in my mentions:

I tweeted them back to say thank you and I appreciated it. I included my email and a day or two later (I forget which day) I got an email from one of their team admitting that when they looked back at the show could see they got it wrong. They’re going to work on it in rehearsal I understand. I thanked them and made various comments including that it would have helped to just stopped the whole blind bit after a few minutes if they couldn’t include it in a more appropriate way.

This was never as bad as the situation I blogged about with Omid Djalili, it was always about someone working in a high pressure situation and getting it wrong and hurting people. And I’m more than pleasantly surprised by the outcome. I wouldn’t go and see The Showstoppers again anytime soon but I’ve taken them off my list of inappropriate shows and my list of shows I don’t want to see again – if they were back here in a year or two I might well go back.

There have been many times I’ve flagged up ableism in various circumstances and not got a good response or been fobbed off by token gestures after long complaints and huge effort. I’m really glad to see one small thing – one tweet – have a positive outcome. And even more glad to hear someone admit that yeah actually they did get it wrong.

But it also pisses me off.

Because why can’t more people do that?

>We Will Rock You

>I went to Birmingham to see We Will Rock You for a second time yesterday.

This time I met up with two of my other uni friends – ones I hadn’t seen since June 2006! It really was much too long but thankfully it wasn’t arkward as it can be with old friends after a long break. I really am very lucky that I have several very good friends I can go months or years without seeing and then have it be as if no time at all has passed. We’ve agreed not to leave it so long this time and will probably meet up for a days shopping in a few months.
When I was at uni I never had a powerchair and still now I prefer my manual for a lot of things. But I still don’t have my new manual wheelchair so comfort would have been an issue and whilst the theatre is very close to the station it’s straight down a steep hill. So I went for the powerchair.
For both of my friends it was the first time I’d been with them in my powerchair and they both commented how it “didn’t seem right” that I was independant and they didn’t need to push me. I was very amused by that because my powerchair is so much of my normal now that I forget that I still have a few friends from uni who’ve never seen me use it or been out with me in it so their picture of me is of the manual wheelchairing girl wheeling around but needed help with some distances. It’s actually how I prefer to see myself too – love my manual loads (or at least one that fits and works right) and like my powerchair for the independance but hate how reliant I am on it now and how much my manual wheelchairing stamina has gone.
We Will Rock You was just as great a second time as the first. I think actually I enjoyed it more. But that might have just been because the day went more according to plan so it was a bit more leisurely and I wasn’t feeling frazzled when we arrived at the theatre! Not a nice feeling.
There was a different actress playing Killer Queen this time and a couple of the jokes/lines were done slightly differently. I was also surprised by how many of the little bits I had forgotten about – and it’d only been two months since I saw it the first time!
It was a really long day out but a very good one. Hopefully now I’m back in touch/contact with my friends we will see each other a bit more regularly from now on.