Helena Ascough is a Blackpool based actor, teacher, poet, theatre maker and live artist.
Helena sought to make new connections with other disabled artists around Lancashire and ran an open call that was made up of purposefully straightforward, open-ended questions and prompts. Helena also found that in order to explore a fuller spectrum of experience, the call needed to extend the call to carers and personal assistants. This approach acknowledges how our lives are interrelated and depend on each other, whether a formal care relationship exists or not.
Helena’s questions were:
Do you think that your disability makes you feel lonely/isolated?
What has lockdown been like for you?
How can society make changes to make disabled people feel included, during and after the crisis?
Drawing on the responses that Helena gathered, she then wrote six new poems exploring both the positive and negative aspects of her participants’ experiences during lockdown.
Helena’s resulting performance emphasises the importance of understanding the nuances of disabled peoples’ varied lived experiences of this time. Watch the artist perform her new poems in ‘Forgotten World’ here: https://vimeo.com/491231892
The poem 'FRIENDSHIP' is transcribed here:
Nurturing friendships are hard work.
It’s like a flower growing in the frost,
You want it grow
To survive the winter but
When you have limitations of when and when you cannot go out.
You just watch don’t you.
You know that it’s there
But it still doesn’t help.
So you live with loneliness
Content with being apart from the wider world.
Loneliness chats to you like an old friend.
Whilst real frost bitten friendship waits outside.
Learning and Next Steps
During 2020 Helena made the most of the commissions that became available as organisations sought to support artists directly, especially those based in her native Lancashire. Listen to Helena discussing her experiences alongside Daryl Beeton from Daryl Beeton Productions and Nickie Miles-Wildin, Director of Graeae Theatre on The Gathering; Arts Lancashire’s podcast series.