'No time for fairies' – Ausnew Home Care

'No time for fairies'

Anti discrimation Artist disability performer Restless Dance Theatre theatre

Actor and circus performer Emma J Hawkins said casting is a still a serious issue for performers with disability.

Last year, Hawkins appeared in the Real and Imagined History of the Elephant Man at Melbourne's Malthouse Theatre.

Disabled actor Daniel Monks was nominated for a Green Room Award for his portrayal of Joseph Merrick (the titular "Elephant Man"), but initially the role was given to an able-bodied actor.

Hawkins calls this a case of "cripping up".

"We feel like we need to play ourselves," she said.

Another barrier at the casting stage is the kind of roles offered to performers with a disability.

"My dream role would be to play the most normal person in the world. I never get roles like that, I am always playing the sidekick or the humorous entertainment," Hawkins said.

In her show I Am Not A Unicorn, which recently played at Melbourne International Comedy Festival, she satirises public perceptions and on-stage representation — which are often interlinked.

"As a short-statured person, I am often looked at as a unicorn that walks down the road," she said.

"[In the show] I play with all the stereotypes and characters that I get offered in the world — fairy tale characters like wicked queens and fairies."

Hawkins has accepted these roles in the past.

"But not any longer," she said.

"I've been working in the industry for 20 years now so there's no time for fairies anymore."

While things are improving, she said getting auditions and getting cast is still a problem.

"That's often why we get together and create our own work."

Hawkins has created her own theatre company and has also worked with Quippings and disability-led theatre company Raspberry Ripple.

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