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> > > Review: Rita Marcalo's 'Involuntary Dances'

12 December 2009

Jo Verrent witnesses Rita Marcalo's live art performance at Bradford Playhouse on 12 December 2009

an image of the naked back of a woman with short dark hair Rita Marcalo Photo by Lucy Barker

Performance artist Rita Marcalo. Photo by Lucy Barker

Image: Rita Marcalo Photo by Lucy Barker

11.45pm Okay. This feels strange. I’m at Bradford Playhouse waiting for Rita Marcalo to have an epileptic seizure and witness it as a dance event. I’m late. The event started at 1pm and it’s now midnight. I couldn’t get here earlier as I was at a disabled artists residency in Dundee. Trains and travel being what they are I didn’t get home until 11pm, but instead of packing myself off to bed, I headed into town with a blanket and a couple of bananas.

I’d got an email before I headed in… "…Just to let you know, Rita hasn’t had a seizure yet…" I’d asked to be kept informed as I know many people with epilepsy sleep for a while afterwards and I’d thought if something had happened then I’d catch some sleep at home before coming over. A strange email to receive. Driving here I caught myself thinking "I hope it’s not happened yet" and then immediately feel guilty. Interesting.

12.15pm Rita works to induce a seizure. She’s drinking wine and has just had a strobe light flashed in her face in short bursts. She seems almost apologetic not to ‘fit’. People applaud. She laughs – and she is right, it is funny people applauding her efforts to please us, to give us what we came here for.

Who is here? Who has come to watch such a spectacle? It seems a young arts crowd. As someone with an invisible disability myself, I know it is hard to identify who is and isn't ‘disabled’ – but there are no visibly disabled people here.

It’s a physically inaccessible venue so that might rule out those of us with mobility impairments (there were problems with risk assessing such event and I know a number of other venues felt unable to host it). I feel old; I reckon only the three guys from St Johns Ambulance are older than me.

12.45pm Had a chat with the paramedic and the guys from the ambulance crew. They reckon Rita is one of the most knowledgeable people they’ve come across in relation to her condition. They find it intriguing and seem to be having a good time. One of them said the best comment he ever came across about epilepsy was from a nine year old. He asked what his family should do if he had a seizure in the bath. The paramedic gave all the standard responses – pull the plug, support the head… The boy said ‘nah, they should put the washing in with me…’

The paramedic said that for some, seizures are the only thing that works every single muscle in the body. Some people would pay good money for a workout like that, he added. No wonder people are tired afterwards.

1.06am Couple of beers in now and I’m feeling introspective. I keep mulling on stuff from the residency where some artists were expressing their frustration with the ‘boundaries’ imposed by their imagined Disability Arts Rulebook. ‘Thou shalt only produce work that relates to your experiences as a disabled person according to the social model of disability’, ‘thou shalt not produce work that relates to pain or fatigue or anything that speaks of disability in a way that could be interpreted as weakness…'

Rita has gained great media interest in this work; tabloid fever about how ‘irresponsible’ she is and how public money (her work is funded by Arts Council England) is being wasted.

People are thinning out now. 40 people paid to come to the event. The piece is 24 hours long with no guarantee. One of the provocations behind the piece is the number of videos posted up on YouTube of people having seizures, taken without the person’s consent. So there is a market. We have been actively encouraged to film Rita’s seizure on our mobile phones and to give the footage to the organisers. If it happens.

1.31am Have I mentioned that Rita is in a cage? She usually takes herself to a confined space if she feels she will have a seizure, so the piece is staged with her in inside a large dog cage. She is fenced off from us, the door occasionally opened to pass her through a glass of wine.

2.05am Just got my camping mattress out, and my blanket. Might as well get a few hours sleep…

5.15am Nothing yet but I’ve dozed on the floor about 2 metres from Rita’s cage.

7.28am There about eight or so of us left now. Mostly asleep; plus staff and the paramedics/ ambulance drivers. And still 5 and a half hours to go. The thing with the time, it makes me examine my motivation. Am I here as a witness, a voyeur, a supporter, a dance audience, a disability arts audience?

8.35am Just had a chat with Rita. She’s frustrated and disappointed. Why has her body not done what she imagined it would? How will people respond if ‘it’ doesn’t happen? She has drunk coffee, eaten dark chocolate, had no medication, not eaten and, of course, had a strobe light fired in her eyes. She’s never seen herself as she seizes. She only has the witnessing of others. This would be her chance to have the experience recorded on film, her cameras and the mobile phones of others.

9.10am Is it art? Many artists have focused audience attention on the human, the spectacle of ‘the normal’ (Kafka’s story ‘The Hunger Artist’, Sam Taylor-Wood’s video of Beckham sleeping shown at the National Portrait Gallery). This is different in that there is this thread of anticipation, therefore the spectre of disappointment. At this point, it seems to matter less. It is enough to be here. Art should challenge, make you think and rethink, give you new insights and this does. Is it disability art? Was viewing Merrick? If Rita does have a seizure, will I watch? Or will I watch the people watching? More people arriving now.

9.45am At ten Rita will find and watch the ‘malicious programming’ she first found at 3 this morning (I was asleep). It’s a programme a computer hacker has placed on an epilepsy support forum that flashes the word ‘epilepsy’ in a way designed to induce seizures. It’s real, not an urban myth. When they launched the London 2012 logo ident, it is reported that it had a similar effect unintentionally. Humans. Strange creatures.

11.36am Looking unlikely now. I feel relief. A sense of protection – for myself, Rita and the rest of the audience. In the past, Rita has locked herself in toilets and chosen to have a seizure next to the toilet bowl rather than to tell people about her epilepsy. If she had had an attack during the performance ironically it would have been one of the safest spaces she could have been in.

1.00pm All finished now. No seizures, lot of tired smiles and congratulations and I’m off home.

Carpe diem – seize the day.

Jo Verrent, 12/12/09

Rita Marcalo's Involuntary Dances was a one-off performance at Bradford Playhouse on December 11/12, 2009. More information here: http://www.bradfordplayhouse.co.uk/mainfs.html

Instant Dissidence is a Leeds-based Dance Theatre Company founded by Rita Marcalo

Comments

Richard Johnson

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26 August 2010

Jolene, have you seen this. Not exactly art, but DEFINITELY authentic.

jolene modd

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6 February 2010

i have had epilepsy for 29 years hospitals have been recording epilepsy using video telemetry for centuries if there is a market for this then why is there not more documentaries on television raising awareness of epilepsy using the hospitals and charities. the way rita did this is not the way.

epilepsy & seizures do not come on you like a switch you can not just switch them on at your own leisure if this was the case then im sure we would all be cured by now. noone chooses to have epilepsy. why would anyone want to call a seizure ART?

alan sidlo

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1 February 2010

i too have been living with epilepsy for about 20 years now... and it is of of my own choosing. no, i don't actually have seizures, but someone very close to me was diagnosed with the condition following an accident.

the reason i am responding here is i believe that i know how rita could have more success in bringing on a seizure. until now, this isn't something i would choose to share. nor would it be something i'd be eager to view (had enough dealings with it already, thank you).

how is it that i should know this or how could i have come to such a conclusion? well, years ago, i came across a really simple way of relieving or lessening the effects of a seizure (or at least i think so). something which also seemed to shorten the lingering feelings in its aftermath. now i've only had one person to test this with and with seemingly positive results (though i'd really hesitate to claim it's a cure). soooooo.... i would surmise that if one were to attempt the opposite they might come up with the trigger to a seizure. funny that thought never occurred to me before, guess i'm just not wired that way.

realize that this isn't something i am too eager to share with just anyone but if rita marcolo wants to contact me, i would be willing to discuss the possibility. ah, the things we are willing to do for art. actually i would be a lot more eager to talk with just about anybody (who has epilepsy) in regards to the possibility of easing seizure activity. please, do not be too optimistic as i cannot make any promises. i am not a trained physician nor i really understand exactly what it is that i actually do (at least at the moment), though i am curious and always willing to give something a try. what i do know is that this doesn't involve any drugs or surgery or inappropriate contact (but i may have to be present during an event).

so please let rita know that i can be reached at asidlo@naturalexample.com if she wants to get her art on!

Brian Pollard

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22 December 2009

John Brett: "humiliation as entertainment" - you mean like having someone sit in a cage trying to cause a seizure so that it can be videoed and put on the internet?

Richard Johnson

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21 December 2009

John Brett: Thank you. The Sistine Chapel ceiling seems to me like the first piece of modern advertising.

John Brett

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20 December 2009

I think popular culture largely resembles fascism with its humiliation as entertainment ethos that drives and thrives in the sick minds of those ever chasing better ratings.

Hitler was the first modern marketing man. He knew how how to make the lowest common denominator work for him. Without the Arts Council providing funding to allow artists to take risks we would be left in the hands of the populists and their mind-numbing idea of what fodder we would be allowed to consume.

Brian Newman

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20 December 2009

I do not think having seizure in a wire cage should be considered a form of art or entertainment. That should be left to the pro wrestling crowd with their circus acts. As a person who has had seizures since the early 80's that have been under control with increasing doses of medication, the idea of inducing an uncontrolled seizure in a steel basket scares me. After reaching the maximum dosage allowable in the 90's I was sent to the hospital to induce a seizure with my head wired to see where the jolts were coming from. This was done by slowly reducing my meds over two weeks and monitoring the results. I knew it had worked when I woke up (I only have seizures in my sleep) with my pillow covered in blood, my tongue bleeding from a severe bite, and my shoulder sore from waving my arm back so hard that I stretched the muscule. The result was that they found the source was centred deep inside the brain and the surgeons felt that staying on my meds was safer than trying to go inside my brain and removing the harmful tissue with no guarantee that it would solve the situation. I have stayed on full meds to this day and carry on a normal life. The only problem I have is that I still do not have full use of my right arm from that induced seizure, and have to excercise and stretch that area to keep it mobile. This is why I don't agree with inducing a full seizure as described, as we really don't know what type of permanent damage could result from this circus act in front of a crowd looking for blood.

Richard Johnson

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17 December 2009

To John Brett: How dare you hi-jack the idea of popular culture to make a cheap point about Hitler? Try a more closely-reasoned argument.

Richard Johnson

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17 December 2009

Thank you Richard and Laura. I can endorse what both of you have written. Last night it seemed to me that the reason I am so angry about this work is that it threatens my identity.

Rita Marcalo may have delighted a well-established disability arts community, albeit a tiny audience, but has alienated the mainstream E-Type community to which I belong.

In my own case, I have had to combat mis-diagnosis by obtaining witness accounts going back to 1984, and compile a suitcase full of copies of medical notes and correspondence obtained from three hospitals, two Genereral Practices, friends and family.

There are two ways for me to look at this:

1) Rita Marcalo knew exactly what she was doing, and is therefore dangerously close to violating Article 30 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

2) Rita Marcalo did not quite realise what she was doing.

Either way, it bloody hurts.

Richard

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17 December 2009

Yes it is art, and yes it is probably good from an educational point of view, and therefore it justifies the financial cost.

There are some serious implications for this type of event though:

1) There is a cost associated with the provision of medical staff (at least two paramedics and at least two ambulance drivers from the descriptions above. Even if they were paid for privately (I don't know if that was the case or not) they are not available for other work during the performance which could risk other's lives.

2) If Rita had been taken into A&E the costs associated with that in terms of nurse/doctor time would be significant.

Having said those things above, the converse is that they are also true for say a football match, where no-one is forced to be there, and there wouldn't be any football related injuries if no-one played football.

By the way, slightly picky I know but it is St John Ambulance (not St Johns).

2)

Laura R.

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16 December 2009

I doubt that Rita knows as much about epilepsy as the paramedics think. If she was photosensitive then she would know her triggers. Same with her alcohol intake and all the other supposed triggers.

The real disability is not the visible or invisible effect of the seizures themselves. Mine is the vunerability I feel during them, and sometimes after. Rita's is her inability to cope with her perceptions of what others might feel. It is Rita who locked herself in a cage - not us. It is Rita who has chosen not to film herself trying to bring on a seizure prior to this. I have a sad feeling that any negative reactions from the spectators would have had the effect of justifying her own negative viewpoint about public reactions and not given her an opportunity to focus on her own issues.

After being diagnosed a few months ago I had a chat with my manager who summed up the whole conversation by saying that she was happy that I felt comfortable enough to have my seizures in front of collegues. And I would really love Rita to be in that position herself one day.

Richard Johnson

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16 December 2009

Not sure if I qualify as a member of any arts community, but my individual means of expression does include education through propaganda:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8413404.stm

Forgive me, Hope I got the link right. Just a confused old epileptic, don't you know?

peter street - poet

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16 December 2009

if Marcola is showing us the importance of human individuality and freedom then she may be moving that bit closer to being an existentialist artist -whether she realises this, is another thing?

peter street - poet

Richard Johnson

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15 December 2009

rich: Thank you for that. It is an outcome I can now work with. Bear with me, I only heard about this website minutes before my colleagues and I left our fist comments. Your words have turned this into a much richer soup, and allowed me better to access Jo Verrent's thought on the "disability arts rulebook". I have aquired personal beliefs about art in propaganda and advertising, now this performance can take its natural place among those beliefs, even though your feelings came to me second-hand. I don't know where this thread will lead, but I hope it continues.

rich

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15 December 2009

i really enjoyed the review.

I felt really uneasy with the idea of the spectacle that may or may not evolve. It felt exhibitionist on one side and voyeuristic on the other. But it also felt like an event were boundaries were being explored and addressed. A real Fluxus moment. Things about the review that struck me..... the comment about Merrick..... did Merrick participate voluntarily, what difference would you be looking at in the freak show, was this exploitative? And then there was the joke. It made me laugh. If it really came from a disabled person then its wonderful. But significantly for me, there was a group meeting last week and someone with epilepsy had a fit. No one knew what it was. The ambulance was called. The person didn't take it. The organisation started making up rules to decide how the person could exclude themselves if this was going to happen again. Everyone felt it should be addressed through a medical model approach. They were keen to take away rights, take away choices. I had never seen this guy fit. Still haven't; i wasn't there. It doesn't seem necessary for me to watch it happen to him at all. But i think the performance commented very well on is life. Don't expect anything to happen. Anything may not happen. But if it does give me a chance. Or something like that.

Richard Johnson

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15 December 2009

To Joe Shann: When we accept the work of other artists into our cognitive processes, we too are the public.

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14 December 2009

to Richard

i'll give it a look

peter s

Richard Johnson

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14 December 2009

Peter, I hope you don't mind me omitting your surname, I do feel pretty good sometimes, although my seizures can start any time after 4.30pm. Compared to E, the recent heart attack was a piece of pee.

My own writing started with the usual E-Type identity crisis during my childhood. The poems started when I first met a shrink, but I haven't participated in any readings or exhibitions of visual art for years.

I can't afford the luxury of stopping my meds., and most decent activities start when I am safely in my bedroom, with the Mac.

If you feel the need to talk about E, join forum4e, which is hosted by Epilepsy Action.

Some of us are creative people, a few are scientists, some are learning-impaired. All, except one guy from New York City, have feelings of disquiet regarding Involuntary Dances. Was it good?

peter street

/
14 December 2009

to Richard Johnson

i am so pleased you have someone to talk to about your epilepsy

this is not always possible for me because i have other impairments and sometimes cannot leave my house or even talk to other people at times. You lucky person

peter s

Richard Johnson

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14 December 2009

Why did none of you support Rita in her moment of need? I know why I didn't.

Will nobody give a critical analysis of the performance? Or was it just a game?

Richard Johnson

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14 December 2009

To Peter Street: My colleagues and I talk about every day. Where have you all been, to be perceiving this as a novel topic?

peter street - poet

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14 December 2009

isn't this great we are all talking about epilepsy

Richard Johnson

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14 December 2009

Talking about not following the doctors orders entirely misses the point. People who have aquired confidence in managing an often-dismissed medical condition have done so with teamwork, not by blindly following instructions.

It is usual for such people to know as much in general, and more in particular, than the most eminent of E specialists. There is a high level of mutual trust and respect.

This is a situation that many of us have fought for throughout our lives. Yet, even a medic, supposedly briefed by Rita Marcalo, made the most basic of blunders in his casual aside to the reviewer. It is not good enough to talk vaguely about concepts, in a world where actuality is dismissed, and superstition still surrounds E in many societies. It is essential to apply the same rigourously high standards to one's art and one's contextualising of the subject. I ask again, how good was it?

Allan Sutherland

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14 December 2009

Well said, Liz. It seems to me that this was always to some extent a conceptual piece, about the idea of what she was doing. And what she was doing was very carefully thought out.

She's evidently raised a lot of issues about our right to make out own decisions. Why should not following the doctor's orders be such a transgressive act? 'Epileptic eats chocolate' is hardly a front page story. Why should we not make our own decisions on such things? What right does anyone else have to tell us what to do with our own bodies?

I find it very curious what a strong reaction the news of this performance has provoked in some other people with epilepsy. I can certainly understand that most people who have fits would think 'rather you than me' or 'you do what you want, but I'm going to keep taking the medication'. But their reaction goes far beyond that. (I understand that the editor of this has had to cut quite a lot of more extreme material, including personal atacks on Jo Verrent for writing this piece.)

I guess it's to do with the fact that, as people with epilepsy, we tend to be very isolated, and therefore don't get the chance to share experiences very much. So when a public event such as this occurs, a whole flood of emotion comes welling up to the surface.

I must say I entirely understand Dr Marcalo's desire to know what it looks like when she has a fit. It's one of the distinctive features of epilepsy that other people have an experience of our impairment that we do not have ourselves. For someone whose business is creating controlled, considered and rehearsed movement, the presence in her life of this movement that is entirely out of her control must provoke great curiosity.

Richard Johnson

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14 December 2009

To Liz Crow: It isn't only artists/poets/dancers/musicians/comedians who take personal journeys and discuss them.

What was the measure of whether the performance worked?

Not the accuracy of its publicity. Not the accessibility of the venue. Not the (unspoken) quality of its content. Not the hurt I have seen on the face of a mother whose child is awaiting a lobectomy. Not the public support. Not the response to this thread of anybody who claims to have been there. Not the size of the audience. Not the density of intellectual focus within the performance area. Not the lasting image of a victim in a dog's cage. Not the follow-up given by media. Not the enlightenment that glowed in the face of the mis-informed paramedic. Not in the willingness of any institution other than the Arts Council to associate itself with the stunt. Please continue talking.

Liz Crow

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14 December 2009

The more disabled artists explore the body and its relationship to the world around us, the more we represent our selves and bring the wider world face to face with the presumptions, misunderstandings and controls that have dogged us through history. Sometimes, this relies on provocation. Rita has provoked and – look – we’re talking! Whether or not she had a fit to order was never the measure of whether the performance worked.

Richard Johnson

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14 December 2009

I'm still waiting for one of the spectators to make an affirmative statement about the experience of not seeing one of the visible types of epileptic seizures.

I would also like to know how many minutes Rita spent in total, actually trying to trigger a see-able seizure, and hear from somebody who can guarantee she did not take her medication.

Once one subtracts the romanticism, and the words-base of the performance, one is still left wondering if this was authentic.

By comparison, some of the clips on Youtube have been copied from videos obtained by genuine E patients, produced under medical supervision in hospital. And shown to educate.

Yeah yeah, we artists do crazy things. When Vincent shot himself he left us more than a failed seizure attempt.

Richard Johnson

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14 December 2009

Orlan is remembered for commisioning her own mutilation. The Arts Council have decided that live art is Art. So be it.

We are left with the spectre well known to those who have E. This performance has re-inforced the negative view held by many people, who think E automatically means psychiatric problems.

It has gone even further. It has re-inforced the view held by some police and health professionals, that E can be faked, that people with E don't work as a part of the healthcare team demanded by the NICE Guidelines, that they are not to be trusted.

It would have been more courageous of Rita to stay in her meetings, and let the live art happen in a real world.

What she did was substitute a public toilet for a cage, abuse herself for a handful of people.

To apply elitist terminology to this is a betrayal of her (like it or not) peer group.

Peter Street - poet

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14 December 2009

How can something so positive be seen has so negative? Rita Marcolo should really be congratulated. She has given birth to a freedom we with epilepsy have been seeking for years.

This is one of those moments that will go down in history. Some may say what she had done is crazy and should never have happened. Some may say it is just a publicity stunt for greater recognition of someones art form and that funding should never have been given?

While at the same time some may say what she has done is verging on existentialism. She is taking control of her situation. As an artist she has made a judgment regardless of what the world may say or think. Regardless of what is right or wrong. She herself has said stuff you epilepsy - this is not controlling me - it is my life. It is my destination.

She is an artist. Artist do the craziest things. We are leaders. It is what we do. We step outside of society, regardless of what society may think of us and do what we have to do because of our art-form.

I went to the war in Bosnia and had a seizure on the way back and horrified the nurses around me who had seen things humans beings shouldn't see. But we do these things because we are artists!

Ok, i couldn't at the moment attempt doing something like Marcolo has done because I need injections in my nose to prevent my status epilepticus. I also need to say some epileptics could never ever dream of attempting something like Marcolo has done because their seizures for whatever reason are unable to be controlled. This could be the reason why so many people are afraid of epileptics because it is this thing of no-one being in control. It is the thing of not knowing.

Regardless of the right and wrongs of something like this. I tend to ask if there is going to be a winner of some kind from all of this? The answer must be yes. It is after all better to be talking about epilepsy, than not talking about epilepsy.

Colin Hambrook

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14 December 2009

The performance at Bradford Playhouse cost £2,000 of Arts Council money - less than the cost of an MPs duck pond. If you think about what Rita Marcalo has done in terms of playing the media game to bring epilepsy into public consciousness I think it was probably £2,000 well spent.

Rita says that "this performance event comes in a long tradition of live art work where artists (such as Orlan, Franko B and many others) take their body as their ‘canvas’, as a ‘site’ of performance." What is at stake here is the question of whether live art is 'Art.'

Live art is often produced out of academic, conceptual ideas, which have emerged from a history of Art which is out of the grasp of most people. I thought Rita Marcalo's statement about what she was doing and why she was doing it were very clear and considered.

In her statement on the Bradford Playhouse website she says:

"... another reason why I am doing this is because epilepsy is often an invisible disability. If I don’t reveal to someone I suffer from it, most people in my life will never know. They will know that at times I might leave a meeting or an event and spend more than usual time in a toilet, and that I will come back looking tired and may give an excuse and leave... But they might never know that this means that I just had a seizure. As a performer my work is about ‘exposure’, but as an epileptic I constantly work very hard at ‘hiding’ my condition. For once in my life I was interested in exploring what it would mean for me to ‘expose’ my epilepsy, instead of hiding it away."

Rita Marcalo's performance was about the convention whereby the 'spectacle' of epilepsy, as it is viewed in the public eye - is looked at head-on from the point of view of a dancer, who sees this aspect of her life as a 'dance' which she has no control over, or perception of. It was an experiment in asking an audience to reflect that perception back to her.

Joe Shann

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14 December 2009

I think many of the comments here have missed the point that this performance wasn't actually about Rita. It was about the fact that we are often seen as objects of fascination when we fit. I didn't see the performance, but thought the purpose of it was to bring issues around epilepsy to the attention of the public.

Richard Johnson

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14 December 2009

10.47, 14th Dec: Still no affirmative comments from the 40 spectators (including medical team, journalists, possibly a couple of Playhouse staff.)

To Colin Hambrook I would suggest that this fact is far more curious than the reaction of the majority of people who have E.

I defend Rita Marcalo's right to abuse herself. I resent it coming out of my own money.

In terms of the outcome of this performance, what did you make of it? What were the several other advertised events like?

Does anybody remember anything except anecdotes based on ignorance from medics?

Colin Hambrook [ED]

/
13 December 2009

Marcalo is drawing attention to public perceptions of epilepsy and asking us to examine our responses.

Allan Sutherland wrote in the Guardian on 20 November "Marcalo is drawing attention to the fact that on YouTube (and elsewhere) it's easy to find mobile-phone footage of people having fits – mostly taken without their consent. Curious, isn't it, that controversy should arise when a person with epilepsy consents to being filmed?

Rita Marcalo is an artist doing what artists are supposed to do: creating work that is surprising, challenging, transgressive and exciting. The point she is making, and her manner of making it, is unfamiliar; she is breaking all the rules... Things that we epileptics are not supposed to do."

To see the full comment go to http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/theatreblog/2009/nov/20/epilepsy-live-art-rita-marcalo

Richard Johnson

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13 December 2009

Well, here we are at 9.45pm on the 13th, and no positive feedback from anywhere. Surely one of the 40 spectators has something to say?

And yet, the review did not mention any of the usual aspects of art. Like talent. Or quality. Or the strength of the artist's ability to communicate. Perhaps none of the spectators really has the stomach, or the passion, to make an affirmative statement about this work.

What was there about it, or the concept on which it was based, that would make anybody affirmative? Somebody help me out here. I'm just a confused old epileptic.

Not that you'd notice, of course. Especially if you were a nurse in my local A&E. And they will not be impressed by this stunt.

Richard Johnson

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13 December 2009

Originally, The Bradford Playhouse stated that tickets would only be sold online. I have just checked, via the link on this website, and discovered that they altered the information to state: due to public demand, tickets will now be available on the door. The space where the performance took place is said to hold up to 150 people. We have been told about 40 were actually there. Strange, E has never affected my ability to add up before.

Richard Johnson

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13 December 2009

I wholeheartedly agree with Ian Stewart. I'm a retired illustrator/graphic designer, who wishes the Arts Council would pro-actively seek out authentic voices. Or would that be too challenging?

Cat Watson

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13 December 2009

I am so glad this failed. This was event was an a horrendous act of exhibitionism, and anyone who went to watch it should be ashamed of themselves for whatever it was they were hoping to see. I wonder what these people would really have felt if Rita had in fact had a tonic clonic seizure, as they were anticipating. How would the write up gone then? Quite possibly "I just paid to watch a person die on stage, and I'm still no wiser about the true nature of epilepsy". Rita has won awards for her dance - I just wonder whether she is in fact that good at it if she has had to resort to exploiting her medical condition to get herself noticed.

Anna Kennedy

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13 December 2009

It seems this young woman only has two seizures a year, I have already had two seizures in the past three days. I would not wish one on my worst enemy, and if I had any warning I would go to a safe place, not a public toilet. That £900 of her Arts Council Grant was spent on wasted medical help is a travesty. OK, this woman wanted us to think. I have no problem with that, but perhaps she could have reached out to the people who really suffer with this condition as well as being a self-publicist. Sorry, I am incoherent because I had a "fit" this morning and no doubt you won't publish this because of that!!

Richard Johnson

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13 December 2009

There are about 40 types of epileptic seizure, many of which do not involve movement. There are also dissociative seizures, which are often linked to mental health problems.

Did Rita challenge the medic's remark, or just carry on supping, smoking, and gripping the cage? She has simply portrayed the victim-figure most of us reject.

A challenge indeed....

Richard Johnson

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13 December 2009

As one of the tiny minority of people whose seizures can be triggered by flickering light, or geometric patterns, I asked the Bradford Playhouse if they could find two spaces(carer plus me), where the strobe lighting would not be directed.

There was no reply from the Playhouse, you have said it is not an accessible venue, and my colleagues and I have statements from the Arts Council, and Leeds University, both carefully distancing themselves from the "performance". It seems there has been some involvement with York St John's College.

It has been said that Rita has 2 seizures per year, which is very mild. Perhaps if she tries hard enough, she may have one sooner or later. Perhaps she has grown out of them...it happens. People will say she is a fake. That's bad for us all. A challenge indeed....

John Brett

/
13 December 2009

That's exactly what Hitler thought the purpose of Art was for - entertainment - to make sure the masses thought they were having a good time, while terror reigned ...

Ian Stewart

/
13 December 2009

"Art should challenge, make you think and rethink"

No it should not, it should be entertainment. That is why rock concerts, commercial theatre and musicals are thriving and performance art/contemporary dance takes place in front of a hand full of people, and needs public subsidy to survive.

If dancers had to do commercial work to survive they would learn why the arts exist, and it is not for self-centred exhibitionism.

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