In the vibrant world of performing arts, success stories often emerge from unexpected sources, and Kathryn Hall’s transformative journey as an Artist inResidence at Restless has become a beacon of inspiration and achievement in the realm of disability-inclusive theatre.
Kathryn, an emerging performer, and writer, embarked on her artistic quest with a mission to share her compelling narrative through her award-winning one-woman show, “Sheltered.” This autobiographical rollercoaster masterfully blends comedy, drama, puppetry, and a special quilt, inviting audiences to explore the ups and downs of finding adulthood in a youth shelter while navigating cerebral palsy.
The journey began when Kathryn was in search of an accessible rehearsal space for her and her director (fellow disabled artist Andi Snelling) to prepare for the East Coast tour of “Sheltered.” Restless, known for its commitment to inclusivity, offered Kathryn a central CBD accessible studio space for six days over two weeks. This collaboration not only provided the necessary infrastructure but also facilitated the creation of a supportive environment for Kathryn’s artistic process.
During her residency, Kathryn utilised the spacious studio to its fullest, leaving large props and set pieces safely on site, eliminating the logistical challenges of transporting them between rehearsals. Kathryn’s disability cerebral palsy has made it that she doesn’t drive. The collaboration extended beyond the studio, as Kathryn worked closely with the marketing manager Radhé Osborn to create compelling content for her personal social media platforms, while Restless promoted her journey on its own social media channels.
As a culmination of her residency, Kathryn performed a special showcase to Restless staff and guests, including Disability Arts ambassador PJ Rose. The event featured a feedback and Q&A session, fostering an environment of collaboration and growth.
Reflecting on her time at Restless, Kathryn expressed her gratitude, saying…
“Thank you for allowing me to utilise the Restless rehearsal space in the lead-up to my East Coast tour of Sheltered. I was able to rehearse for three afternoons in the rehearsal space, which was a great opportunity to get my show back in my body.”
The impact of Kathryn’s residency quickly became evident as she took her powerful performance to the Undercover Artist Festival in Brisbane in 2023, receiving acclaim for its emotive storytelling and thought-provoking journey. The narrative’s cheeky, uplifting, and joyful elements resonated with audiences, earning Kathryn well-deserved recognition.
The journey continued with performances at the Melbourne Fringe in 2023, where Kathryn’s talent and dedication shone even brighter. Not only did “Sheltered” receive a Melbourne Fringe Best Theatre Award nomination, but it also secured the Access & Inclusion Award, along with two Judges Picks, cementing Kathryn’s status as a trailblazer in disability-inclusive theatre.
Kathryn Hall’s success story stands as a testament to the power of collaboration, inclusivity, and the transformative impact of providing accessible spaces for artists to thrive. As Restless Dance Theatre looks ahead to its 2024 residency program, Kathryn’s journey serves as an inspiring example of the heights that can be reached when art and accessibility intersect.