Laura Cantliff is a dance artist and disability advocate, from Stoke on Trent and currently based in Devon. She studied dance at De Montfort University, and has an MA in Theatre and Dance Performance from Plymouth University. Alongside her dance practice, she is conducting PhD research that focuses on performance training processes for disabled students. As a neurodivergent person, she has made it her mission to contribute to the making of accessible theatre and promote work that raises awareness for and celebrates neurodiversity.
Amble Skuse works with found sound, voices, archives, electronic processing and site specific locations to explore identity and power. Her work has featured on BBC R3’s Late Junction, and been performed from Slovakia to China by ensembles including Mr McFalls Chamber, Red Note Ensemble and Rarescale. Her first opera, ‘We Ask These Questions of Everybody’ (Hera, commissioned by Sound Festival, 2021) was “politically important and an artistic triumph” (★★★★★, The i). She is completing a PhD examining ways in which a disabled composer-performer can utilise technology. She is a BBC Performing Arts Fellow and holds an AHRC scholarship.
Toria Banks is a disabled writer, director and dramaturg. In 2018, she co-founded Hera to make inclusive music theatre by gender-minoritised artists, with Linda Hirst and Simone Ibbett-Brown. In 2021 she made ‘We Ask These Questions of Everybody’ with composer Amble Skuse: a digital opera commissioned by Sound Festival and made remotely by an all-disabled team during the pandemic. It transformed a DWP benefits assessment into something beautiful: “Politically important and an artistic triumph” ***** The I. Also for Hera, she has written and directed a short video opera “Sleeping and Waking are Their Names” and operatic gig theatre show “Generation” (premiered York Concerts, 2019). She was dramaturg to acclaimed director John Wright from 2006 to 2012, and has written three plays for rural touring. She has previously staff-directed for ROH and ETO, and was Resident Director at Trinity Laban from 2009 to 2021. Last year, she programmed SWAPra's online festival Forgotten Voices and is currently writing a guide to opera by women before 1800 for Wordville Press (forthcoming, 2022).
Composer Amble Skuse and writer/director Toria Banks will be collaborating with dancer and choreographer Laura Cantliff to explore the concept of ‘consent’ from a disabled perspective. The residency is an opportunity to begin the process of finding the creative language for a new dance-opera.
“Disabled people have a different set of experiences of consent and its absence, overlapping with those of other groups. This includes unwanted touch, staring, disclosure of or demands for private information, and a lack of informed medical consent. Disabled people in the UK have also been subject to illegal Do Not Resuscitate Orders during the pandemic. We will be working with interviews with other disabled people about their experiences, and with Mimu Gloves (hand-based motion sensors) and the Playtronica 'Touch Me' device to generate sonic worlds using dance improvisation. We want to communicate these experiences and also to explore questions around the dissemination of authorial power in composition and performance-making. Consent and disability theory give us new ways to think about creative processes and about how to be with each other.”
Toria Banks, Amble Skuse, Laura Cantliff