As a decade of austerity policies continue to bite, HERA’s online opera created remotely will share the real-life experiences of disabled people in the UK. Performed by a cross-genre, all-disabled ensemble, We Ask These Questions of Everybody draws on transcripts from an assessment for the Department of Work and Pensions to expose the emotional challenges faced by disabled human beings dealing with state power. In a year which has seen vulnerable communities facing overwhelming mental, social and financial pressures as a result of shielding, We Ask These Questions of Everybody shares a story which urgently needs to be told, and celebrates the hope and solidarity of the disabled community.
Hannah needs help. She meets Lynn. Lynn works for a company that works for the Department of Work and Pensions. An assessment takes place. And then something else. This is an encounter between two women, an audience, and a riotous chorus of disabled voice, with text drawn from real conversations and combined with samples soundscapes and singing. In collaboration with designer Dylan Howells and creative captioner Laura Spark, We Ask These Questions of Everybody is an interactive and accessible digital experience, designed to reach many more people than it might have before, including home-based disabled people who are often excluded from theatre.
Writer Toria Banks says “I’m so excited by Amble’s work. Her music is intimate and detailed, but hugely ambitious, and so is the show. It’s about really everyday things – preparing food, having a wash, going to the shop, and it’s about survival and joy. Because life as a disabled person is like that. I think after the year everyone’s had, non-disabled people will be in a good place to understand that too. The show was originally going to be live (and we still hope it will be at some point) but going online makes sense for us. Even before COVID, Amble and I have never met in person because of our disabilities. I understand getting frustrated with Zoom but real, human connection doesn’t have to be about sharing physical space. It’s about listening.”
HERA was founded in 2018, by writer-director Toria Banks, singer-director-writer Simone Ibbett-Brown, and singer and contemporary music veteran and pioneer Linda Hirst, as an intergenerational, intersectional feminist opera company. HERA makes and tours accessible music theatre by women and minoritised artists.
We Ask These Questions of Everybody is on Friday 29th January 2021 at 5pm as part of Soundfestival livestream, more information can be found here.