It sounds quite cynical to say that when Theatre503 put out a call for responses to #MeToo I thought, “What can I submit that nobody else will?”.
Tinted isn’t just about sex. It’s about consent and consent is about more than sex.
I’ve always been interested in disability perspectives and I sent a piece that had three characters. Then there was feedback that the visually impaired character was the strongest. Well, she would be. She’s me. Not entirely me; there are things that happened and things that didn’t just like in every story. Don’t assume that because I’m visually impaired and my character is that the entire story is biographical. That’s a trap a lot of audiences fall into (that and assuming I’m straight because it’s about a heterosexual relationship).
Part of my inspiration for Tinted, a one-woman show which I’m bringing to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, was #MeToo, and the fact that disabled narratives have been left out of it. I also wanted to explore the social underdevelopment that comes with growing up disabled. I wanted to validate that experience of being 29 and still living with my parents (while a schoolfriend bought a house on the same street) sleeping in a room the same as my parents’ while I had the box room at the back like their three-year-old. And all that experience of being talked to as if you are stupid, of having a master’s degree but selling ice creams; that experience of doing a job you are "overqualified for" (and knowing that you are physically less able to do it) but which capitalism dictates that you have to before you can do something you are good at.
When you mention you are visually impaired, a colleague says “We know. You tell us all the time” without actually applying that information to anything you do so you wonder if saying “blind” might sound less pretentious, even if it's inaccurate.
I’m glad people who take Tinted’s autobiographical elements at face value say they loved my parents in it. I love them too; they’re great; probably disability activists before me despite being non-disabled. Though I haven’t invited them to see this – I don’t want them to watch me talk about sex. Actually Tinted isn’t just about sex. It’s about consent and consent is about more than sex. It’s about believing that people can do things for themselves and establishing a clear form of communication about what they want and need.
Disabled people are not taught the same level of autonomy over this as non-disabled people and Tinted shows what happens when this is taken to extremes, seeing as we’re having this conversation. To paraphrase the sign in The Simpsons SEX: Now that we’ve got your attention, free lessons in consent.