Firstly I feel like I should apologise to anyone who actually reads this blog; I intended to be a regular blogger, not someone who half heartedly thinking up random things to write about once every 6 months. Anyway, first 2010 resolution is obviously to blog with regularity! In late November an offer came my way which was too good an opportunity to refuse, (more next week) and that along with my full time day job, law school and the madness that is December left me with little time to write an intelligible and articulate blog. There have been lots of things that I’ve read or watched which have made me want to log in and write or rant but without the luxury of time they would have been incoherent ramblings. One of the things I did do was a brief appearance on Channel 5 News and “Live from Studio 5” talking about the use of able bodied actors in disabled roles. If you missed it, here it is: http://www.five.tv/programmes/daytime/live-from-studio-five/51510
Whilst I realise there are instances when it is acceptable to use an able bodied actor (a big budget film which needs to guarantee large box office receipts will cast a well known actor, or a script where the character acquires their disability some way through the film). As an actor I know most of us love playing the most challenging roles that are far removed from who we are, and playing a disabled character would be an incredibly challenging and rewarding (and awarding!) opportunity. Without those instances we’d never have seen the brilliant performances by Daniel Day-Lewis as Christie Brown in “My Left Foot”, Tom Cruise in “Born on the 4th of July” and Hilary Swank in “Million Dollar Baby”.
However, as a disabled actress I am against regularly casting able bodied actors in disabled roles; the work is just so thin on the ground, and though I know that is the case for the majority of able bodied actors too, I think it is only fair that if they can audition for disabled characters then equally we should be able to audition for characters where there is no explicit mention of a disability. Some casting directors have said there isn’t a large pool of talented disabled actors from which to cast, this is largely due to the fact that until recent years, most drama courses were in buildings without sufficient facilities for disabled students. But this is also in part because the roles are so few, we aren’t cast frequently enough to build on experience; there really needs to be more work done to nurture disabled talent so we can prove we’ve got what it takes.
That is why it was so great to watch “Cast Offs” on Channel 4 last month, finally a more positive and honest take on disability. Strong, well written and entertaining characters with diverse relationships on and off the island. Why, it even had sex and disability….the last taboo! Much more on that in a future blog.
Until then, I wish you lots of good things in 2010.