Super Special Disability Roadshow

Written by Robert Softley Gale
Directed by Joe Douglas
Original songs by Sally Clay

A commission for Edinburgh International Children’s Festival

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What’s it like to be disabled in 2021 🧐 ? 

Find out with The Super Special Disability Roadshow! Hosts Rob and Sal are testing out Rob’s new high tech version of their roadshow.  Desperate to stay with it Rob has embraced the digital era. Opening with a cheary (some might say cheesy!) ditty, they launch into their new show. Things are going pretty well, as Rob and Sal teach us what it’s like for disabled people in today’s world … until the younger generation decides to set them straight!

The Super Special Disability Roadshow was commissioned for the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival by Imaginate, created by BOP and directed by Joe Douglas, written and performed by Robert Softley Gale, co-starring and with original songs by Sally Clay, and introducing Oona Dooks and Oliver Martindale.  Film made in association with Urbancroft.

Drawing on stories and experiences of disabled children and adults, the show explores what it means to be disabled and how different generations of disabled people feel about their identities, with characteristic BOP humour, heart and honesty. 

BOP hope to tour theatres in 2022 with The Super Special Disability Roadshow.

READ THE DIRECTOR'S NOTE

Our show goes wrong…at least, that’s what Rob would say. 

He would sit there, with a star on his chair, telling everyone who cares to listen about what is right and wrong about disability.

But the show doesn’t ‘go wrong’, it’s just different from what was expected. It becomes different because Ollie and Oona, the young heroes of the story, speak up and say what they believe to be true, how being disabled affects them and how it is different from Rob’s experience.

Sal’s experience is different again – she doesn’t use a wheelchair like the others do – she is blind, which shapes how she accesses the world around her. For years, she has been Rob’s smiling, singing sidekick, trapped in a show that doesn’t express what she is really feeling. Rob doesn’t really listen to her, until the children’s words make her feel more brave.

Oona says that the key message to pass on to children about disability is: “talk to one another”. 
Talking only works with a lot of listening. And then understanding. And then changing what you do as a result, how you act. Put it all together and you have COMPASSION, which is really what The Super Special Disability Roadshow is all about.

Joe Douglas 
Director of The Super Special Disability Roadshow

READ THE WRITER'S NOTE

At BOP we’re constantly trying to reach new audiences in ways that are engaging and entertaining – trying to make the stories of disabled people more part of wider society so that barriers begin to come down. And like most messages, the key to getting this one across is to ‘get them young’. I used to be asked for my views as a ‘young disabled person’ all the time and then, one day, I realised that didn’t happen anymore – because I wasn’t young. So I wanted to find out how things have changed for young disabled people nowadays – have they got better or not?

Through workshops in schools and with groups of disabled young people we gathered stories and found some potential performers – Ollie and Oona stood out from the first time we met as being great examples of what today’s young disabled experience is. This show has taken a few years in the making as we knew what we wanted to say but not exactly how to say it. Everyone involved – the director, producer, designer…everyone – has brought so much to this show but my costar and the songwriter extraordinaire – Sally Clay – is probably our secret ingredient. Her generosity, amazing musical skills and cutting wit are so much of what this show is about. A huge thanks to her and to everyone else.

We’d love to be sharing this show with you ‘in the flesh’ right now but, until that’s possible, please sit back, hit the play button, and enjoy MY show! 

Robert Softley Gale
Artistic Director – Birds of Paradise Theatre Company

ACCESS:

The Super Special Disability Roadshow film comes in three different versions:
1 – with Captions; 2 – with BSL interpretation (there are 2 BSL options to choose from); 3 – with Audio Description.

Once you make a booking for the performance, you will be sent the option of each of the above versions for you to choose from. Watch the BSL trailer below.

ABOUT THE SHOW:

SSDR IN THE MEDIA

Preview: How the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival is gearing up to stage live performances
Joyce McMillan – The Scotsman

Interview: Robert Softley Gale and Mairi Taylor from BOP drop in for a chat about the upcoming production
Sunday Morning with Cathy Macdonald – BBC Radio Scotland
(listen from 43 minutes into the programme)

Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ “[An] exploration of the changing politics of disability”
Joyce McMillan – The Scotsman

Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ “… a collision of memories, bickering, songs, animations, jokes and serious commentary.
Mark Fisher – The Guardian

Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Smart, funny and nuanced online show exploring lived experiences of disability
Thom Dibdin – The Stage

The video below is a Q&A with Joe, Robert and Sally, hosted by Noel Jordan, Festival Director – Edinburgh International Children’s Festival

MEET THE TEAM

The Cast

Robert GalePerformer
Sally ClayPerformer
Oona DooksPerformer
Oliver MartindalePerformer
Natalie MacDonaldBSL Interpreter / Performer

The Creative Team

Robert GaleWriter
Joe Douglas – find out moreDirector
Sally ClayComposer
Lewis den Hertog – go to websiteAV Design
Ali Maclaurin – go to websiteSet & Costume Design
Natalie MacDonaldBSL Interpreter
Emma-Jane McHenryAudio Describer
NovaSound – go to websiteSound Design & Production

The Production Team

Niall Black – go to websiteProduction Manager
Avalon Hernandez – find out moreStage Manager
Siobhán Scott – find out moreStage Manager (on book)
Andy ReidAV Technician
Guy Coletta – go to websiteProduction Sound Engineer
Urban Croft – go to websiteFilm Makers
Niall Walker – go to websiteMarketing Consultant

For BOP

Robert Softley GaleArtistic Director
Mairi TaylorExecutive Producer
Michelle RolfeProducer
Callum MadgeEngagement Manager
Morna McGeochDevelopment Officer

PRODUCTION IMAGES

Set and character descriptions for context

The following slideshow contains a series of images from the Super Special Disability Roadshow production.

The stage has a keyboard on stage right covered in a light blue cloth on the left side and the floor matches the colour of this cloth. For the backdrop there is a large rainbow arch with the letters ‘SSDR’ painted in a bright graffiti design in the middle. The D has the silhouette of a person in a wheelchair in it. There are a few black flight cases for equipment dotted about the place.

Rob is a middle aged white man with short brown hair and glasses in a wheelchair. He is wearing a birght blue t-shirt with same SSDR graffiti logo as the set. Sal is a middle aged white woman with blonde hair who is blind. She is wearing a bright pink tshirt with the same SSDR logo and a yellow baseball cap sideways. Ollie and Oone are two children who appear in the show via video chat. Ollie is ten, a wheelchair user, with short blonde hair and glasses. Oone is seven, a wheelchair user, a short bob haircut.

  • The woman is standing on the left behind the musical equipment that is covered in a blue sheet. She is smiling. On the right, the man in the wheelchair is holding a microphone with his mouth wide open and his head thrown back. In the middle of them, there is a screen on wheels with two people on it against a white background. One of these people appears to be holding a white toy pony.
  • A close up of Sally behind the music deck. She appears to have a keyboard in front of her. Her mouth is open as she appears to be singing.
  • Robert and Sally are sitting in foldout chairs in front of the aforementioned set. His seat is much taller than hers. He is looking down at her as they appear to be having a conversation. On set there is a woman with short dark hair sweeping the stage.
  • Sally and Robert are positioned at the front of the stage. Robert, on the right, has his arms positioned in an X as he looks over at Sally. Sally, on the left, is smiling and has her hands lifted at her sides as if mid gesture.
  • Sally stands behind the music desk. There is a long fluorescent light bulb running across the top of it that lights her face. It is giving of a lilac glow. Her mouth is open and she appears to be mid song.
  • A close up of Robert on stage. He is smiling with his mouth wide open and his hands open at either side of him.
  • Sally stands behind the music deck with the fluorescent light on top of it. On the floor in front of the desk, there are 3 long lights with 4 different coloured bulbs in each of them: red, yellow, green and white. The white bulbs are lit up. Robert is near the front of the stage and is looking back at Sally with one of his hands opened and raised.
  • A shot of Robert near the side of the stage. He has both of his arms stretched up high in the air. To the right of him, there is the screen on a wheelchair. The wheelchair has various brightly coloured stickers all over it. The screen is split with video feeds of Ollie and Oona, at the top is Oona with a dark bob haircut holding a white toy unicorn. Beneath her is Ollie.

Descriptions for context

The following images are taken in different backstage rooms at Screen Skills Academy, wherethe SSDR film was made. Some of them are taken at some of the location shoots for the filming. The pictures feature Rob, Sal, Ollie and Oona (described above) Joe Douglas – the director – a middle aged white man with a tight pony tail, and other various members of the crew.

  • Sal, Rob, Oone and Ollie pose with big smiles, and smile for a photograph. They are backstage and there is lighting and sound equipment in the background all set against a greenscreen. They are posing with a large rainbow tube around them.
  • A swing set outside. There are two very young toddlers, each in their own swing with behind pushing them. In front of them there is a man on one knee holding a camera filming them. Everyone is wearing thick winter coats.
  • A rehearsal room full of people spread out on chairs. The camera is focused on Joe (the director) middle aged man with long grey hair that is pulled back. He is wearing a green patterned mask and is looking at something off camera. He has one hand reached out and is touching something large and blue on the floor.
  • Oona sits backstage. She is holding a large red and green tube in their hands as if about to dunk her head in the end. It is about large enough for a person to crawl through.
  • A photo of Ollie backstage. He is doing a wheelie on the large back wheels of his wheelchair with the small front two up in the air. He has a facemask pulled down at his chin
  • A photo taken outside of a small building. Rob and Sal are surrounded by a camera crew. There is a camera and a mic on a boom pointed at them. Joe and Oona watch on from a distance.
  • People sit around a rehearsal room. In the foreground is Oona in her chair, in the background is Joe, holding an iPad and Sal facing Oona with her back to the camera.
  • A shot of a cluttered corridor. There are various things lining it, such as: lights, cardboard boxes and pieces of furniture. In the middle there is Ollie in a wheelchair looking down at their phone.
  • Sal, Rob, Ollie and Oona pose in front of a green screen in a diamond formation. They are all wearing different coloured T shirts that have ‘SSDR’ written on them. Sal is at the back, smiling with her arms outstretched and a folded cane in one hand. In front of her there are Roba dn Ollie, who are both smiling. At the very front is is Oona, who has her arms in the air.
  • Seven people sit around two white round tables in front of a large window. There are various food and drink items on the tables. Everyone is looking towards Joe who appears to be reading off of an iPad.

INFORMATION FOR SCHOOLS AND FAMILIES:

BOOKING FOR SCHOOLS

Booking for schools is open. If you represent a school and would like to book the show then please follow this link to the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival, schools booking page.

RESOURCES FOR TEACHERS AND FAMILIES

Now that you have watched The Super Special Disability Roadshow, we have a whole host of different ways young ones can continue to think about and explore the issues raised in the film.

ONWARD TOURING:

Super Special Disability Roadshow is available for touring to venues and schools in 2022. For further information about the show, download the Tour Pack below.

WE DIDN’T MAKE IT ON OUR OWN:

The Super Special Disability Roadshow was commissioned by Imaginate and produced as part of the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival 2021

A quote from our Artistic Director, Robert Softley Gale, about being part of the festival

Large graphic of a quotation mark in dark blue

“Birds of Paradise were delighted to be commissioned by Imaginate to take our approach of adult theatre to younger audiences. Working with young people in making this show has been incredible fun. We like being honest and so do they! We are excited to bring conversations about disability into schools because we’ve been doing it far too long for adults and the world isn’t changing fast enough! Maybe the future will be accessible? We think we have made something that will make everyone laugh and think – and leave with a better understanding of disability.”

You can find out more about Edinburgh International Children’s Festival 2021 here.


Feb 2020 development call out

CALL OUT

We are seeking young disabled people to assist in the creative development of this production

Who do we want to work with?

We would like to work with disabled young people who are open to talking about and able to reflect on what it is like to be a young disabled person today.  It is a while since Robert was a young disabled person (!) and he would like to talk about how what he experienced compares to your experience. We think this means working with anyone 12 – 20 years old – but this is only a guideline.

What will happen?

You will come along to a small relaxed session of about one and a half hours. There will be some chatting and some creative activities. We will be looking at ways we can tell our stories.

Who will be there? 

Robert and Mairi from BOP will be there and Alex Byrne who makes theatre for young people with the company New International Experiences.  You are welcome to bring a parent or PA but we may ask them to observe and not take part.

When will it happen?

  • Monday 24th February, 6pm – 7:30pm at Inclusion Scotland, Edinburgh
  • Tuesday 25th February, 5:30pm – 7pm at Scottish Youth Theatre, Glasgow

What will it cost?

The session is free and we will cover any travel expenses.  Some light refreshments will be served.

What will happen afterwards?

We would like to stay in touch and there may be other opportunities to work together as we develop the show.

How do I get involved?

If you would like to get involved please email all@boptheatre.co.uk or call 0141 552 1725

We will ask you to provide some contact and access requirement information.