Love London Love Culture’s Editor Emma Clarendon spoke to Amy Bethan Evans about her play Libby’s Eyes, playing as part of the Breaking Out season at the Bunker Theatre.
Could you tell me a bit more about what Libby’s Eyes is about?
Libby’s Eyes is about a visually impaired woman who is issued an audio descriptive robot. The robot does not function how it is designed to and hilarity ensues. However, this is set in a world where disabled people are forced to register as either functioning or non-functioning, so Libby needs to get it sorted if she wants to retain her human rights.
How did the idea for the play come about?
I was interested in exploring themes of functionality and ableism through artificial intelligence for a while so it was an idea I had floating around. I also wanted to work with audio description and I’ve thought for a while that it could be a lot more fun than people dare to let it. The plot came from my personal experience of the PIP (Personal Independence Payment) system.
What would you love for audiences to take away from Libby’s Eyes?
I want audiences to be roused into action about what the government is doing to disabled people. I also want them to see that impairments are not something to be overcome but incorporated and used in creative ways. I also want them to realise the true potential of audio description. I also want them to enjoy it. It’s got a lot of comedy so I hope they’ll laugh as well as be angry.
How are you feeling about being part of the Breaking Out festival?
I love it. The Breaking Out festival is such a good idea as I would be far too anxious to pitch my work to anyone without a platform like this. It’s also a really supportive environment and I feel they really want us there. It is one of the best things I have ever done and I’m so happy that I get to do this play so soon after writing it.
How would you describe the state of inclusivity for those with a disability in British theatre at the moment? How do you think it could be improved? I feel like there are improvements being made from when I was first starting out but I also feel that a lot of theatre doesn’t take into account that often disabled people are too shy to ask and even if they are told they can apply for something, they have talked themselves out of it beforehand because they know how hard things will be. People need to go a bit further to give us the confidence that something is for us and that our requirements have been taken into consideration by someone who understands them and that we are willing to open up that dialogue.
What are you working on at the moment? I’m spending a lot of time with Libby’s Eyes. I’m also working on a commission for Extant as well as doing a casting placement at the BBC. I’ll keep you posted!