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Guerilla Access: A Low-To-No Budget Guide To Creating Accessible Performances.

I’ll set the scene… It’s 2023, we’re fresh off the back of a global pandemic, heading straight into economic and financial ruin. Theatres closing down, entire drama schools shutting up shop (R.I.P ALRA), the elusive ACE funding application process becoming ever more… elusive. It’s hard to even see theatre at the moment, let alone make theatre!

As we have seen over the pandemic, when money and resources go low, disabled people are often the first to go (so much for ‘building back better…’). So when it costs so much even to get into a rehearsal space, we often find ourselves out of pocket when it comes to adding fancy bells and whistles such as BSL interpreters and providing audio description headsets. But don’t fear, for Access Worm is here! (That’s me, Emily Bold, I’m the Access Worm) And I’m here to spill the beans on a little something that I call ‘Guerilla Access’.

Oh, tell us access worm, what is ‘Guerilla Access’?

Well, I’m glad you asked! ‘Guerilla Access’ is a term I use to describe access done on the cheap. Fun fact: Access is never perfect, so don’t freak out thinking that it has to be! So Guerilla Access is about embracing the mess and trying things out, even if they feel clunky and you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. Trying is at least better than not trying, and you’re never going to learn if you don’t try.

Great. But one small thing… What even is Access?

Sorry, I thought you already knew! Let’s backtrack… Access at its most basic level is permission. Access in theatre means allowing an audience to experience your work as fully as they can or wish to. For some audience members, this is already the case, but as theatre makers, it falls on us to make that the case for as many audience members as possible. It is at this point that I should also mention, that it is about the allowing the audience to experience as much as they can, not as much as you can. So don’t think you’re having to get d/Deaf audiences to hear the piece like a hearing audience, or visually impaired/blind audiences to see the piece like a sighted audience. That is not what access is, that’s just weird. Access is about working with your audience as they are!

Yes Mum. Sorry, didn’t mean to call you mum, Access Worm.

That’s okay, it kind of turned me on actually. :)

Have you got anything else you’d like to say about Access before you actually tell me what the things I can do are?

One more thing before we get into the list. Access is not just for audiences, it is for artists as well, but that can be a whole separate conversation if yo