Presented as part of the Midsumma Festival’s And/Or program, actor, playwright, and disability advocate Jamila Main’s one-on-one performance, Benched, is an intimate look at acquired disability at Footscray Community Arts Centre this February.
Kicking off 2022 as a featured rising star in The Advertiser, Main is making their Melbourne debut with the show they both wrote and perform in.
The show had 3 sell out seasons in Adelaide and the Riverland in 2021, and is made up of candid moments as Main draws from their athletic childhood and their body’s decline due to severe Endometriosis and Osteoarthritis.
Originally commissioned by FELTspace Gallery as a one-off live performance work, Benched was made from Main’s bathtub and bed as they endured a pain flare that lasted months.
“I needed to make a show in a way that was accessible to me. That meant writing the show in the bath and telling short, autobiographical stories.” said Main.
The show isn’t just accessible to Main. You can join them on the bench in person, but if you’re on the more Covid-safe side, you can book a Zoom ticket to be zoomed onto the bench from your own home. There are also tickets to a digital pre-recorded performance of the show and Auslan interpreted performances.
Main’s work has previously appeared in Midsumma Festival in work-in-progress showings, with Main’s debut play Butterfly Kicks shortlisted for the 2020 Queer Playwriting Award at Gasworks Arts Park.
In 2021 Main was a participant in the Midsumma Pathways program, a professional development program which saw Main partnered with award-winning actor and playwright Kate Mulvany as their mentor.
“Jamila’s writing goes straight to the heart of now,” said Mulvany, who was the first person to read Benched, and encouraged Main to push the show further.
“The show has come so far since that pain flare in the bath tub and sending off drafts to Kate,” said Main. “Benched will have a Sydney season at Darlinghurst Theatre Company in May later this year and is available for interstate touring.”
Since graduating from the Acting Program at Adelaide College of the Arts in 2018, Jamila has swiftly become a prolific and respected artist working across Adelaide, Sydney, and Melbourne.
Jamila has starred in works across stage and screen, including Curiosity (Sydney Theatre Company, 2021), the acclaimed Aleppo. A Portrait of Absence (Adelaide Festival, 2020), and Craig Ilott’s L’Hotel (Adelaide Cabaret Festival, 2021). Jamila’s feature film debut will be in Back to Back Theatre’s Shadow.
Jamila was a commissioned writer for State Theatre Company of South Australia and ActNow Theatre’s Ruby Award-winning Decameron 2.0, and has written ground-breaking articles on online theatre for ArtsHub.
As a playwright Jamila has received awards from STCSA for Immaculate and How to Eat Rabbit, which also received a commendation from Griffin Theatre Company. As a dramaturg Jamila has worked on Cat Piss by Jordyn Fulcher at Darlinghurst Theatre Company and devised theatre works.
Footscray Community Arts Centre, 45 Moreland Street, Footscray
Season: 10 – 12 February 2022
For more information, visit: www.footscrayarts.com for details.
Image: Jamila Main – photo by Ren Williams