DaDaFest International Festival 2022 now underway

DaDaFest International Festival 2022 has been officially launched in Liverpool – and the six-week diverse programme is now underway. 

The festival’s programme boasts an inspiring and fascinating showcase to celebrate the talents of disabled, Deaf, and neurodivergent artists and performers. 

Organisers were joined on Wednesday evening (26 October) by sponsors, partners, and artists at the city’s Unity Theatre to open the festival. 

DaDaFest International Festival Executive Producers Joe Strickland and Rachel Rogers, and Homotopia Festival Director Char Binns officially opened the festival. 

Guests were then invited to experience the event’s first live performance of the festival – Trash Salad by Rosa Faye Garland, co-presented by DaDa and Homotopia. 

Rosa Faye Garland is a performer, clown and maker who trained at Ecole Philippe Gaulier. Trash Salad, a genre-bending burlesque adventure using lip sync, strip tease and song, is her solo comedy debut which became a cult hit at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.  

The theme and title of this year’s event is Hybrid – to highlight how the programme will be performed across a mix of live and online events to ensure the festival is accessible for all. 

DaDaFest International Festival 2022 will run for six weeks through to 3 December. In addition to online events, live performances will take place at city centre venues and beyond including Unity Theatre, Bluecoat, Museum Of Liverpool, and St Helens Library. 

The first week of festival events and performances all take place live at the Unity Theatre. They will be filmed and be available on-demand next week. In addition, the wider online programme will also be available on-demand until 18 December. 

The DaDaFest Autumn programme features the work of three DaDa Fellows who have received creative bursaries from DaDa to enhance their creative practice, build confidence, and develop skills to drive change for disabled people in the arts and our communities. Fellows represented are Kadisha Kayani, Rhiannon May, and Amina Atiq. This follows the Summer presentation of work in June by Fellow Letty McHugh. 

The live programme at Unity Theatre continues on Thursday 27 October with 24, 23, 22. This ‘little earthquake’ of a gig-theatre show produced by Nottingham-based theatre company Chronic Insanity. 

Kadisha Kayani performs Sunshine and Shadows on Friday 28 October. Kadisha is a queer, neurodivergent artist and performer from Liverpool, who focuses on work to stimulate socio-political change in the community. It’s mid-Covid and 19-year-old Estelle is feeling alone and reflective. When her relationship between her best friends is put to the test, and in the era of social media, will she feel like this forever or will she begin to face the fears of her inner child?

On Saturday 29 October, Deaf actor and theatre and textile designer Rhiannon May presents Crash Landing: A Theatrical Sensory Experience, which invites its audience to plunge into the chaotic world of Planet Zoe. 

Founded in 1984, DaDa develops and presents excellent disability and Deaf arts through a multi-art form artistic programme that includes high-quality festivals, interventions and events, fed into by a year-round programme of engagement work with developing and established artists, young disabled, Deaf and neurodivergent people, their families, and the wider community. 

The first DaDaFest International was presented by DaDa in 2001 as a platform to showcase the work of disabled, Deaf, and neurodivergent artists. 

The festival programme features national collaborations including joint commissions, programme sharing and organisational development covering both disabled and non-disabled artists, and local partnerships working collaboratively to increase artistic excellence, support local established and emerging artists. 

Previous festival participants have included actor and comedian Liz Carr, comedians Laurence Clark and Francesca Martinez, band Amadou & Mariam, and musician Dame Evelyn Glennie

DaDaFest International Festival Executive Producers Joe Strickland and Rachel Rogers commented, “We are excited to launch DaDaFest International 2022 at Unity Theatre with such a vibrant and versatile mix of events over the next six weeks. We’ll see theatre, burlesque, opera, film, music, photography, poetry, and interactive digital artworks from local, national, and international artists who all identify as disabled, Deaf, or neurodivergent. 

“In keeping with the ‘international’ label of our festival, every artwork and performance will be available online and on-demand for audiences who cannot be present for the live event. This means that whoever you are, wherever you are, or however society disables you – you can still attend and feel part of our celebration of all things disability arts.” 

The second week of the festival takes place online and on-demand until 18 December and features Hera’s We Ask These Questions of Everybody; Past Life by Alice Christina-Corrigan; Flight Paths by Extant, the UK’s leading professional performing arts company of visually impaired artists and theatre practitioners; and Rachel Parry’s MALPER. 

Sheilded In The Community is a disabled-led project – led by artist Mandy Redvers Rowe – that gathered artistic responses to shielding from disabled people in the North West responding to prompts from professional artists. The exhibition opens on Wednesday 16 November at Museum Of Liverpool to coincide with the start of Disability History Month. 

The Bluecoat will host Amina Atiq on Wednesday 23 November. Amina is a Yemini-Scouse poet, award-winning activist, performance artist and creative practitioner, whose previous work for DaDaFest includes Broken Biscuits. 

The Edward Rushton Lecture closes the festival on Saturday 3 December, hosted by Museum Of Liverpool to coincide with the International Day of People With Disability. The event is named after the blind poet, activist and abolitionist, Edward Rushton. The lecture will be given by writer and artist Khairani Barokka, it will be live streamed and made available on-demand. 

Jakarta-based Khairani Barokka is editor of Modern Poetry In Translation. Her work has been presented widely internationally and aims to centre disability justice as anticolonial praxis. She is the author-illustrator of Indigenous Species (Tilted Axis); author of Rope; and co-editor of Stairs And Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back (both Nine Arches). Her latest book, Ultimatum Orangutan, is shortlisted for the Barbellion Prize. Her talk will give new perspectives on disability, and widen knowledge and understanding of the impact of colonialism on disabled communities. 

DaDaFest International Festival 2022 operates a ‘pay what you decide’ pricing with tickets for individual events ranging from a suggested £10 general admission to £8 concessions, £5 half price, and free. 

There are also week tickets costing a suggested £20 general admission/£16 concessions/£10 half price/free, and festival passes which give access to events across the entire six weeks and which cost a suggested £40/£32/£20/free. 

Image credit: David Munn

(L-R) Rachel Gnagniko, Rushton Lecture panel member/Equality, Diversity, and inclusion consultant; Joe Strickland, DaDaFest Executive Producer; David Kelly, Assistant Producer, Music DaDa; Amina Atiq, DaDaFest Fellow; Rachel Rogers, DaDaFest Executive Producer; Char Binns, Homotopia Festival Director; Denise Kennedy, Access Co-ordinator, DaDa 

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