An intimate performance that ruminates on athleticism within a disabled body, Darlinghurst Theatre Company presents the NSW premiere of Jamila Main’s Benched at the Eternity Playhouse from 25 May 2022.
Six invited guests enter the space one by one. They choose a ball, shoe, or frisbee and take a seat. A story is told.
Actor and award-winning playwright Jamila Main invites you to join them for an intimate moment of rumination on athleticism within a body whose access needs subvert the assumed binary of disability.
Audiences will watch the story shift before their eyes as special guests join Jamila on the bench throughout the season. They include playwrights Tasnim Hossain and Dr Christopher Bryant; Greens candidate for Grayndler, Rachael Jacobs; and artist and Paralympian, Susan Wood.
Benched continues Jamila’s work with autobiographical storytelling and sees Jamila wielding their privilege as a palatable disabled person to put frank, nuanced portrayals of disabled bodies into public view.
Jamila’s work asks ablebodied spectators to reconsider their assumptions of sick and disabled people, and to confront their own temporarily abled body. Jamila joyfully presents theatre for disabled and chronically ill people, an opportunity to commiserate and celebrate disability together.
Jamila’s practice is informed by their dual careers as a playwright and actor, creating live performance works that explore autonomy, trust, joy, and operate within queer, disabled, and intersectional feminist dramaturgies.
Benched expands on Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s ground-breaking access, equity and inclusion work. The entire creative team of Benched identify as disabled and bring their own lived experiences to the realisation of the work. Through this production, DTC continues to advance the conversation about disabled representation in theatre, both on and offstage.
DTC is very excited that Wiradjuri and Worimi Director Amy Sole is working with Jamila Main to bring Benched to the Eternity Playhouse stage, so that a wider audience can experience it.
“We’ve just gone through something that was deeply collective – living through the pandemic,” says Sole. “And now having Jamila take that space as a disabled human to share their experience, not just one on one, but as an entire theatre, is incredibly unique and a massive privilege.”
While Benched is Jamila’s story, but many people will feel seen and heard as they experience the work. “I think there’ll be lots of moments of realisation for people,” says Jamila. “I want them to enjoy themselves and to be left feeling alive, connected and in love with the disabled community.”
Eternity Playhouse, 39 Burton Street, Darlinghurst
Season: 25 – 29 May 2022
Information and Bookings: www.darlinghursttheatre.com
Image: Jamila Main – photo by Ren Williams