INTERVIEW: Vici Wreford-Sinnott | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Passion and outrage are fuelling our existence. It’s hard to see the end to strife, especially when linked to such epic human tragedies as those of 2020, but inevitably things do quieten down, a kind of peace is negotiated and people drift back to a normal state of existence. Therein lies another kind of danger.

I’ve been an activist for three decades,” says writer, director and performer Vici Wreford-Sinnott, “What I’ve found is that things go in cycles. Things speed up and then at times they seem to slow down. We had a light shone on us during things like the Paralympics but it almost feels at the moment as though disability has fallen off the agenda.”

The former punk and founder of Little Cog theatre company writes eloquently and passionately on her blog about the need for sustained activism, particularly for people like herself: disabled women. Social change doesn’t just involve a rally here and there, a homemade eye-catching slogan and some blazing headlines but lifetimes of graft to try to get the playing field just a little bit more level.

As women and as disabled artists we are all still having shocking experiences,” says Vici. “There are obstacles to getting our work made, especially when we create a piece which doesn’t conform to that stereotype of the passive, vulnerable person who is a victim of her condition.”

There are obstacles to getting our work made, especially when we create a piece which doesn’t conform to that stereotype of the passive, vulnerable person who is a victim of her condition

She conceived one such project which she was to perform in 2021. “Siege was meant to be a touring production,” explains Vici. “I thrive off the energy of a live audience but when the pandemic happened it was awful to have that taken away and not know when it will be back.”

A timely joint intervention from arts space HOME in Manchester and Stockton’s ARC meant that Siege was transformed into a fifteen-minute monologue written, directed and edited by Vici and featuring collaborator Phillipa Coles. “Phillipa is brilliant,” says Vici. “She was perfect for the character of Mim. Mim is edgy and radical. She wants to be an underground performer but when she auditions the owner of the cabaret club gives her a job behind the bar as he doesn’t think she’ll be able to cut it as an act.”

Mim’s bolshy, non conformist attitude reflects in the entertaining and insightful discussions filmed as an accompanying piece to Siege. In The Wrong Woman Discussions, disabled artists and performers Bea Webster, Tammy Reynolds, Melissa Johns, Julie McNamara and Vici chat frankly about their work and experiences around the topics of what’s expected, being looked at, transgressing and agency.

After so many years at the frontline of fighting for space and the right to speak with integrity, you could perhaps forgive Vici for wanting to take a breather, however the success of Siege means that she has recently received funding to write and direct another of her creations. “It’s a four character film called Funny Peculiar about characters who have been in lockdown for most of their lives and for whom the restrictions offer a unique opportunity to shine.” She’s also involved with a multi-artist collaboration called Disconsortia which engages disabled performers, musicians, digital artists and more to create work. “I just want to say that the North East arts scene has always been extremely supportive of me,” she says. “I feel the future is really, really exciting.”

Siege is available to view on the HOME, Manchester website

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