Rachel Gadsden and Deaf Men Dancing photographed by Tim Hayton
It is always extremely difficult to feature just one Accentuate project when there is so much going on. Therefore in this addition we will be looking at uScreen and our Paralympic inspired outdoor commission.
Accentuate was very proud to see the launch of the groundbreaking uScreen project, early on this autumn at the BFI. It was a wonderful event and very well attended.
uScreen offers young people the opportunity to make films collectively online like never before, by using a range of specially created, accessible film-making tools. uScreen is a resource and showcase platform for 14-24 year olds. It offers interactive and fully accessible advice and mentoring for all young people but is particularly tailored to disabled young people’s needs.
The launch event provided an opportunity for some of the young people who have been involved with uScreen to showcase their films on a big screen to an influential audience. Some students from Valence School worked in collaboration with Freedom Productions, a production company owned by David Proud and Julie Fernandez, to produce a film called ‘Wheels of Fortune’. Many of you may know David Proud as his BBC EastEnders character, Adam Best, though he has also appeared in the CBBC series Desperados and in the second series of ITV's Secret Diary of a Call Girl in 2008. Julie Fernandez is of course well know for her role in The Office.
Shannon Green who took part in the uScreen production of Wheels of Fortune said “I have gained in confidence”. She found working with disabled filmmaker and mentor, David Proud really inspirational and it helped her make the decision to go on and study business at college.
Young people from Resource Productions based in Slough also took part in the launch. One of the young people, Stephanie Howell wrote and directed the talking heads film, Don’t Judge Me, which came from her experiences after her accident which resulted in her becoming a wheelchair user.
Stephanie Howell said: “uScreen has helped me get across what I’ve been wanting to say and how I have felt for years. Showing my film made me really chuffed – lots of people liked the poem that I filmed because it’s about disability. It gets the word out. When the poem came to life, when I saw it for the first time today, it changed me and changed my outlook. It made me smile because all my hard work hasn’t been for nothing. I was lost until I managed to do this - uScreen made me feel I am found and that I have a voice.”
Accentuate is really keen to watch the development of uScreen and see the wider impact it may have. There are already very promising signs that demonstrate this really is a resource that can break down barriers and provide opportunities for young people to be ambitious.
Dan Edge, disabled actor, writer and uScreen mentor said, “uScreen as a project enables young people contact with industry people they wouldn’t normally meet and the chance to tap into the knowledge when they need it.”
uScreen currently has 512 members and this figure is growing fast. It is also developing an international membership with 23 members from South Africa and 12 members from Louisiana and New York, as well as 51 members in Europe. If you want to find out more about uScreen then do get in touch with Screen South.
Celebrate, Commission and Collaborate
Accentuate is proud to announce the commission of a new outdoor theatre show tracing the history of the Paralympic Movement as part of the Cultural Olympiad in the South East.
Disabled visual artist Rachel Gadsden and Mark Smith of Deaf Men Dancing are leading this ambitious project with over 100 disabled and non-disabled young people from across Buckinghamshire as well as from South Africa, USA, Rwanda and Australia. They will also be collaborating with Paralympians past and present from across the globe on the project.
This dynamic collaboration reunited Rachel Gadsden a visual artist, whose artistic methodology is expressionistic, energetic and raw, echoing the deepest motivations of what it is to be human, and Mark Smith a choreographer, who uses a fusion of different styles of dance incorporated with sign-language to create exciting and unique work for his company Deaf Men Dancing.
This specific project for the outdoor theatre was launched at Stoke Mandeville stadium, birthplace of the Paralympic Movement, on Friday 9 September to coincide with the launch of London 2012 Paralympic Games tickets.
Work has now begun on devising the piece with a three day residency delivered by the full artistic team and four - times gold medal winning Paralympian, John Harris, at Stoke Mandeville Spinal Injuries Unit for children and young people. Part of this residency process includes the young people choosing a name for the project. Workshops will then continue throughout the Autumn term with partners Stoke Mandeville Spinal Injuries Unit, Shed in the Park and Stocklake Park School. Rachel Gadsden is also working in John Waycliffe Christian School in South Africa in contribution to the project.
Other international partners will collaborate online through a new ‘e-community’ website managed by Creative Junction as part of their broader young persons project Create, Compete, Collaborate (CCC). CCC has an ambition to see every young person in the South East have an opportunity to engage with young people from another country.
Caterina Loriggio, Creative Programmer for London 2012, says: “This project will make a tremendous contribution to the South East’s Cultural Olympiad programme. Rachel and Mark are very exciting and extremely talented artists to work with and will do an excellent job not just inspiring the young people but in creating a new piece of work telling a fascinating but little known story about the beginnings and development of the Paralympic Movement.”
Christina Pepper from Creative Junction is excited that young people from both the UK and abroad will be able to help develop and influence this new piece of work.
She says, “A huge part of London 2012 is about inspiring young people and this project will be an opportunity for the young people taking part to learn about different cultures, broaden their horizons, experience new artistic skills and really feel a part of the London 2012 spirit.”
Emma Slawinski, Programme Director of Accentuate says: “Screen South, through the Accentuate programme, is very proud to be supporting this new commission. It is vital that we make the most of the opportunity provided by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as celebrate the wealth of talent we have within the South East. The involvement of young people at all stages of the commission, both in this country and internationally, will ensure the commission has a legacy far beyond 2012.”
Early next year work will begin on designing and developing the show ready to be performed in time to coincide with the opening of the London 2012 Paralympic Games in London.