Water Angel: Challenging the Boundaries of Traditional Theatre

Back to blogOne year ago by Jodie
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Emily - young woman smiling at the camera sitting in a wheelchair
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Emily Dash is an accomplished 25-year-old woman with many achievements under her belt.

From actor and public speaker to writer and now producer.

However, what Emily finds difficult is that people often define her more by the fact that she has cerebral palsy.

“It can be disappointing and frustrating to often be defined by others according to my limitations rather than my abilities and achievements,” said Emily.

“I am much more interested in people setting high expectations for me – I’m keen to strive and reach for the stars.”

That is exactly what Emily is doing through her assistant producing debut with the theatre production ‘Water Angel’ at the Sydney Opera House.

Presented by ‘Can You See Me? Theatre’, an initiative of Cerebral Palsy Alliance, the production brings together people with complex disabilities and able-bodied professional actors to create a theatre performance based on the life and experiences of people with disabilities.

“Last year I participated for the first time as an actor, which was an incredible experience, but I am always eager to learn and broaden my experience. It is such a privilege to both act and assist with producing at the Opera House, and with such an amazing production.”

Water Angel is the fourth production of Can You See Me? Theatre to feature at the Sydney Opera House and, like previous years, tickets are expected to sell out quickly.

Water Angel aims to challenge the societal limitations and misperceptions faced by marginalised groups and touches on topical issues such as climate change, marriage equality and refugees.

Kylie Harris, the production’s director showing Emily the ropes, explains that Water Angel will open people’s minds to ideas about what brings joy and meaning to a life.

“Water Angel was co-created by all of our performers – embracing our diversity, different strengths and vulnerabilities. Our performers felt a real solidarity with other marginalised groups and we really wanted to focus on the shared experience of being human and what makes a life worthwhile – irrespective of our differences, whether they be physical, emotional or where we are from.”

Kylie says that Water Angel is a contemporary and avant-guard production that uses all form of storytelling.

“We need to work with a wide range of abilities and this translates on stage into a dreamlike, surreal quality,” continued Kylie.

“Many of our performers have complex disabilities, require a wheelchair for mobility, and many are non-verbal. The production allows these performers to inspire a form of theatre that amplifies their natural movement and their unique and natural performance abilities for speaking, story telling, humour and communication. The result is incredible.”

Water Angel will be the fourth presentation at the Sydney Opera House (SOH) with Can You See Me? Theatre creating history in 2012 with “Circumspecto” as the first performance of it’s kind at SOH to involve 10 actors in wheelchairs.

Rob White, CEO of Cerebral Palsy Alliance believes Can You See Me? Theatre is breaking boundaries through its innovative approach and is vital to the wellbeing of people living with cerebral palsy, their families and the broader community.

“It is fundamental that as a society we enable and encourage people living with cerebral palsy to thrive and reach their full potential. Can You See Me? Theatre is a perfect illustration of what is possible when people are given the opportunity,” said Rob.

Emily believes art plays a special role in transcending invisible boundaries and is excited about performing on a premier world stage.

“I’m very excited about performing at Sydney Opera House because it is a wonderful professional opportunity and will allow me to extend myself as an artist. Given that we are in such a prestigious venue I think people will begin to understand what people and artists with disability might be capable of,” continued Emily.

“We like to surprise people and challenge expectations. People are always amazed when they first come to one of our performances – the quality, depth and feeling of our performances leave people wanting more. There is always a great buzz and the audience always leaves with big smiles on their faces. It makes all of the hard work worthwhile,” finished Emily.

Kylie Harris says the future is looking bright for Can You See Me? Theatre.

“We have already achieved so much more than people thought was possible. Our long-term vision is hitting the stage in New York. Our performers are just as deserving as anyone to be on the world’s premier stages!” finished Kylie.

To support Can You See Me? Theatre, tickets are available at http://www.sydneyoperahouse.com


Event Details

Water Angel

The Studio, Sydney Opera House

May 19 & 20, 2016

6.30pm and 8.30pm

Tickets: http://www.sydneyoperahouse.com

Through Can You See Me? Theatre’s distinctive storytelling style – a signature blend of physical theatre, voice work and narrative – Water Angel promises to surprise you and leave you wanting more. But most of all, it will open your mind to ideas about what brings joy and meaning to a life.

About Can You See Me? Theatre

Can You See Me? Theatre (CYSM?T) is a cutting edge program that brings together people with complex disabilities (most of whom are non verbal and face significant barriers to participation in community activities) and able-bodied professional actors to create a theatre performance based on the life and experiences of people with disabilities. It is an initiative of Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s ‘Community Access Program’