My Inspiration: Lisette Auton – Chop, Dissolve & Burn | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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From Tuesday 20th June to Saturday 8th July Alphabetti & WANCS will be showing Chop, Dissolve, Burn, a ‘comedy full of love, complete carnage, telling it like it is, and epic swears.’ The production is written by acclaimed North East writers, Lisette Auton and Richard Boggie and directed by Paul James and pokes fun at society’s attitudes towards disability, whilst exposing the terrifying truth about the impacts of inequality on disabled people’s lives.  

Here, Lisette tells us what inspired the show…

In early 2021 when the world had flipped on its axis and life was scary for everyone, but particularly disabled people, Richard Boggie got in touch to let me know he’d spotted a call out for seed funding for Newcastle Fringe Festival. I didn’t have the capacity, or want really, to do more solo work, so we got together online to see if we could come up with an idea. We knew each other from the spoken word scene, and our paths had crossed putting some disability activism creative work together, but this was the first time we’d had a proper chat. About five minutes later we realised we had a shared very twisted dark humour and a similar outlook on the way the world treats disabled people. We could make each other laugh. And we had an idea. A corker of an idea. And a friendship that I absolutely now treasure.

Working with Richard has been a dream. We didn’t really discuss the how of writing together, maybe we should have done? It organically happened – luckily. Getting together to make up ideas, talking about things that had happened to us, making each other laugh, and massively taking the p*ss out of each other. Then getting excited and writing scenes, making each other laugh again, editing each other’s work, starting to glue it together into a THING. There was never anything precious about it, no need to be ‘nice’ to each other, if a joke didn’t cut it, it went. We were creating a thing together. And that’s what it really felt like, that we had all these ideas which we were now filtering through a joint brain. In the rehearsal room this week we’ve been writing together again, for trailers and announcements, and immediately we’ve been snorting and pushing it further, daring each other on. But all of this comes from a massive political disability activism stand point, where we are wanting to hold the world up to account. A mirror, not a sanitized fluffy, ‘Aw the poor disabled people’ – an actual, this is life, look at it. With epic swears.

We got the seed pot funding which allowed us to work with Alphabetti and perform an early version of Chop, Dissolve, Burn as a rehearsed reading. Alphabetti and Ali Pritchard especially were absolute champions of this piece and wanted to programme it. One failed and then one successful ACE bid later, we have an incredible creative team making Chop into something awesome.

It gave us the opportunity to get Paul James, flipping legendary director and human being, on board and together to take it into R&D. This was where we really started to see it as a play. The inspiration from our own lives and the horrific things that occur to disabled people politically, structurally, societally, all started to really hone into this epic, fast-paced, ridiculously sweary story, but it was love that shone through. At its heart that’s what we found – a love story.

We were determined to show disabled people as real, flawed, funny people, to write a comedy for and by disabled people, which non-disabled people would find funny too, but wasn’t all inspiration and sweetness, wasn’t sanitized, proper as it is, sock you round the chops with it, but make you laugh and not know whether you should. I’m really proud of this piece. And the friendship and creative relationship that has grown out of it. Richard and I found each other in a really dark period of lockdowns, Do Not Resuscitate orders being placed on disabled people against their will, news reports showing basically the murder of disabled people through negligence and lack of care. It was hard to find the light in that. But it inspired us to write this, to find each other, and what we have made is absolutely brilliant, quite frankly it’s dark and dirty and funny as f*ck.

Tickets Pay What You Feel (20th June – 24th June) or £3-£15 (27th June – 8th July) and available here.

All performances are captioned, audio described and relaxed. Performances will have a BSL Interpreter apart from Saturday  24th 7.30pm, 1st July 7.30pm and 8th July 1pm.

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