This is a guest post by Sarah. She blogs here.
I’m never one to argue with anyone who tries to raise awareness of any DisAbility. Until now, that is. A dancer, who happens to have epilepsy, has come up with a ratherâ€¦ ermâ€¦ original way to raise awareness of the condition. Rita Marcalo plans to try to induce a seizure on stage at The Bradford Playhouse as part of the 24-hour Involuntary Dances event on 11 December, which will also include dance and poetry readings. The audience will be invited to film the event on mobile phones. Ms Marcalo has stopped taking her medication ahead of the event.
Arts Council England, which is funding the performance, said it aimed to raise awareness about the condition. The organisation has provided about Â£2000, which they say includes Â£932 for medical risk assessment and support.
Their spokesperson, Diane Horton, said: â€œThis project raises awareness of a disability through the artist’s personal experience of epilepsy and we support this. We have made sure that a full risk assessment of the project took place, including medical advice, and that appropriate medical support is available during the performance. Rita is an important artist whose work deserves to be seen and the Arts Council both respects the creative decisions she makes in her work and supports her right as a disabled person to be heard.â€
However, Ms Marcalo has been criticised by the epilepsy charity Epilepsy Action. Their deputy Chief Executive, Simon Wigglesworth, urged her to reconsider the idea, saying that she will put herself at risk, and that she may also put at risk other people with epilepsy who may wish to copy her behaviour. He added that: â€œThrowing away seizure control treatment trivialises the condition and does not respect the fact that some people have spent time trying to get it under control.â€ As I said earlier, I certainly think the idea is original. However, Iâ€™m really not sure about the safety of intentionally stopping medication for that long. From the little I know of epilepsy I would say that is a very dangerous thing to do.
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Filed in: Culture,Disability