Where: 13e Devonshire Road, L83TX
When: Thu 22, Fri 23, Sat 24 3pm-9pm, Sunday 25 12pm-3pm
How much: £3
I hadn’t intended on writing another On The Verge post, but I’m really keen to check out I-HAPPY-I-GOOD if time and funds permit. Taking the festival to south Liverpool near Princes Park, one audience member at a time is given blackout goggles and ear defenders and guided through the everyday experiences of a woman living with deafblindness.
Just thinking about writing this post for the last couple of days has made me uncomfortable. Unlike the classic getting-to-know-you question, ‘Would you rather be deaf or blind?’ Amy Conway’s piece makes us question: how do you get to know someone living with deafblindness?
‘Enter Fiona’s world of darkness and silence. Inside it is bright and noisy. It is a world where the domestic is wild, the pedestrian and everyday, hostile. Where the ordinary will confound and delight.’
I-HAPPY-I-GOOD forces us to experience life robbed of our two major senses and consider everything we take for granted:
How do they communicate wants and needs?
Must they rely mainly on instinct for danger?
What are their relationships like?
How independently can they live?
How do they spend their day to day lives?
Disabilities are occasionally referenced in the media; maybe a film will have the token wheelchair user. There’s also increased pressure for the media and society to acknowledge mental illness. Paraplegics were even given a look-in with Million Dollar Baby. But the only mainstream reference to deafblindness I personally can think of are some vaguely offensive lyrics by the band 3oh!3:
‘Shush girl, shut your lips,
Do the Helen Keller and talk with your hips.’
Until now I hadn’t even heard the phrase ‘deafblindness’ and shamefully would have referred to someone as “deaf and dumb”. On learning that Keller was an author, political activist and lecturer, I was faced with my ignorance, having assumed sufferers kind of sat in a room all day waiting to be fed, bathed and put to bed. Keller insisted, ‘Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn whatever state I am in, therein to be content.’
This brave piece of theater forces us to acknowledge and experience the unthinkable – a mysterious, and arguably the worst, disability. Intimate and immersive, I-HAPPY-I-GOOD ‘seeks a greater understanding of the problems faced by some the most vulnerable and marginalised people in society. It explores the difficulties inherent in the provision of social care and challenges our interaction with the world. You will grapple with a world not designed with you in mind, as those around you attempt to communicate and accommodate your needs.’
Amy Conway is based in Glasgow and dedicated to creating new works that speak for the voiceless and under-represented; women, minorities and the vulnerable.
Though booking is essential, at 30 minutes, this performance can easily slot into your day.
Find tickets at http://www.unitytheatreliverpool.co.uk/whats-on/ihappyigood.html