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New play covers Social Care through the ages

Madhouse re exit poster
Madhouse re exit poster Image credit: accessallareastheatre.org

There’s a new arts project which is about to open in London which will focus on the past, present and future of social care as well as covering hard hitting subjects such as institutionalisation and isolation.

Everyone behind Madhouse re:exit has a learning disability or autism and has been two years in the making.

Covering the benefit cuts and institutions being closed down across the country the play highlights how the impact the changes have had on disabled people.

Artistic director from Access All Areas, the theatre company behind the production, Nick Llewellyn told The Guardian: “As services are cut, people are becoming stuck at home and the isolating walls of institutions are being replaced by people’s bedroom walls.

“The walls are still there but [they are] more hidden or societal rather than physical.”

One of actors starring in the play is Dayo Koleosho. He signed up to the production “to make a change to what continues to go on in our world [and] help people with learning disabilities to express themselves, to break out of their shell”.

The message behind Madhouse re:exit is to show the government’s plan to replace patients from institutions into community-based housing isn’t working because a recent study revealed there are at least 2,445 people still living on hospital wards.

In preparation for the play staff at Access All Areas have visited secure hospitals and interviewed former patients who lived in institutions.

The event also includes separate pieces of art which broadens the audience’s awareness to disability. One such segment tells how people with Downs syndrome were once worshipped as gods by a Mexican tribe. Another piece sees a performance by poet Cian Binchy who challenges people who assume people with a learning disability are asexual.

Founder of Beyond Words Shelia Hollins developed a manifesto for Access All Areas.

She explained: “Beyond Words and Access All Areas developed the manifesto about some of the basics we all need in our lives to have a better chance of truly belonging to our local communities.

“Truly belonging requires a stable sense of personal identity – something which can remain relatively undeveloped for adults with learning disabilities who are denied opportunities for meaningful relationships and activities – and a place that we can call home.

The manifesto calls on everyone, including service providers, to do some simple practical things to help each other develop and belong.”

As well as the performance there will also be workshops for people with learning disabilities and autism, educational resource packs for schools and a panel discussing inclusive practice in theatres.

Madhouse re:exit opens at Lowry in Salford on 17th May as part of the Week 53 arts festival.