05 May No Assumptions, Please!
Mixed ability on stage and on screen in Malta
Hello everyone, welcome back to ‘No Assumptions Please!’ Today I’m very proud to share with you the direction that we are going in for inclusion in the performing arts and in entertainment in Malta.
In autumn 2021 on behalf of Opening Doors I went to an audition to take part in an inclusive Sensory TV show called Avarù. This TV show is about three superheroes and it’s for children with disabilities and accessible by a neurodivergent audience. All their episodes feature on TVM. I’m very happy to say that I was selected to be one of the presenters of the show.
I was given the role of introducing the weekly episodes of the sensory boxes which had plenty of sensory objects and I had to explain what each object was. For each of these boxes there was no script to go by or any preparation of what I had to do before I went to the studio. Usually I found out what was in the box when I got to the studio. The director would give me the general idea of what I had to say and the rest was up to me. I got the opportunity to film in front of a green screen as in the actual video they would add some special effects to it. It was basically a huge room which was full of cameras and an area which was covered with green, and two big TVs capturing what was going on. At the very back of the studio there was another room which was full of computers where the whole filming team there, where they added special effects and CGI to the videos. I would always film in the evenings and I didn’t mind if I had to wait for my turn as I always loved to watch the main cast performing.
This year I stopped presenting the sensory boxes and I was invited to take part as a guest actor with the main cast. My role was as a brand new character called Donna Teatre who is a theatre critique. For this, I was given a script with my lines which were all in English, which I had to learn. The fun part of the character of Donna Teatre is that she was a Prima Donna, so it was always fun to get into hair and makeup for her, especially as she had a lot of makeup and my hair was put up into a French roll.
Another fun part the very first time that I appeared as Donna Teatre was that I had a scene with one of the superheroes who was one of the teachers in the School of Performing Arts where I used to go before I joined Opening Doors. So I already knew him and because of that I really enjoyed it. I felt that my performing improved and it was really fun playing off each other.
I’m really happy to say that Avarù went on to really have a mixed ability cast as they expanded the cast to include a youth worker who is on a wheelchair and a friend of mine who is blind. Before I joined it was not mixed-ability, but after I started doing the sensory boxes this happened. Everyone was really welcoming and warm to all of us and included us as part of the Avarù team.
On the 2nd of May everything was really emotional as we wrapped up filming of Season 1. I have just loved this whole experience. It was really great to be part of this new thing and I hope that I will make it into Season 2 as a permanent actor with the rest of the main cast. What I really love is where we are now. We have finally got to have a mixed ability cast. This has shown me that inclusion on screen is possible here in Malta.
This month of May is very busy for me as I’m taking part in the Opening Doors annual performance for the very first time. During the show, I will also be performing with the rest of the cast of Automaniacs, as we will be doing a piece from it. I think this may be the first time that the Opening Doors annual performance also includes a mixed-ability piece. I’m also returning to my role in the Is-Sigra Tat-tin rerun, which will be in the first week of June when we have 5 performances planned. I hope to see you there at both performances.
I hope more people will take up the challenge to try and include persons with disabilities in stage performances and on screen. Let’s give inclusion a chance!