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Advocacy – Project Arts Centre – Tiger Dublin Fringe Review

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Advocacy runs at the Project Arts Centre until Saturday 13th of September.

Advocacy is not a traditional play, it is a piece that aims to give a voice to people who are rarely heard on stage or anywhere else. It tells the story of those who suffer from intellectual disabilities and the services that are in place to make their lives better. These services aim to empower the individuals through role play and other techniques and to teach them how to integrate with the community. This integration is the eventual aim of all these services and it is not always possible depending on the level of disability they suffer from.

Some of these role plays are performed. We get to meet the shady shopkeeper, who aims to trick the individuals into buying things they do not need. They are given the simple task of buying one item and not allowing themselves to buy anything they do not need. This is part of their assertiveness training, that seeks to help the individuals make eye contact with those they are talking to and to use the tools they have been taught to carry out tasks that many would consider basic.

There are a variety of incidents also, where the individuals grow frustrated with an aspect of their lives and lash out. These incidents are recreated on stage in the form of heavily choreographed sequences with much repitition. We are taken through incident report forms, that aim to establish the basics of how the incident took place, and what can be done to reduce this risk in future.

The actors are sometimes the service users and sometimes the providers. They change between these roles, allowing you to see both sides of the spectrum. Their speech is controlled and deeply considered, their acting style often dead pan. There are moments of humour and moments that are quite touching. The stage has a simple backdrop, where key words and phrases are projected. This work is an attempt to educate members of society that are unlikely to know anything about intellectual disability and to make us see how our own behaviour reduces them to stereotypes. It may not be an easy night at the theatre but is important none the less.

Advocacy runs at the Project Arts Centre until Saturday 13th of September.

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