The Positivity of Difference – Cellist Jo-anne Cox on Declaration

Celebrating the power of difference

Sarah performs in Declaration.

As part of our tour of Declaration we invited audience members we met along the way to share their responses as part of a series of guest blogs. Our third guest writer is Jo-anne Cox is a cellist with a passion for inclusivity, creative interaction and cross art form collaboration. She came to watch Declaration at Stratford Circus.

‘I was so excited when I saw the listing for Declaration on Disability Arts Online. I knew it would be great for my partner who has ADHD, to experience Sarah Emmott’s positive and empowered representation on stage. I also knew that the show would broaden my understanding of what it’s like to have ADHD. Declaration delivered this superbly and offered much more.

Most importantly to me, Declaration both celebrates the positives of difference and brings to light the hidden difficulties that come with ADHD. As a person with a long term mental health condition I think this is brilliant. Whilst recovery model states that a person should be encouraged to participate in the mainstream it does not recognise that neurodiversity can bring unique talents and abilities and that these are of great benefit to society.

Breaking down barriers

Just look at what Declaration has done to break barriers in traditional theatre practice. The audience are seated in a round allowing greater scope for meaningful interaction between Sarah Emmott and her audience.

There are many very thoughtful adjustments to make the show inclusive, for example the provision of ear defenders, which can be helpful for people with sensory processing issues and a well being room led by qualified mental health practitioner Steph Walker.

The show also has groundbreaking implications for neurodiverse and disabled performers. Art with Heart used a well being contract on tour. This takes access beyond making adjustments and fully embraces reality that on a bad day it could be counterproductive to perform.

Sarah performs in Declaration.