Across this summer we will be touring the uplifting and incredible Look Mum, No Hands! to arts festivals across the southeast. It aims to show that disability needn't hold you back as an able-bodied performer and a disabled performer combine to create the most incredible choreographed show. We spoke to Daryl Beeton from the company about the ethos of the company and the message they want audiences to take away with them.
1) Tell me a bit about your show and what makes it stand out
Daryl & Co and Mimbre: Look Mum, No Hands! is a tender tale of friendship and growing up. The production takes creative advantage of the fact that one character uses a wheelchair to make acrobatic shapes and choreographies that are original and unexpected. It explores a coming-of-age story about two friends testing their own boundaries.
The show is for a family audience but can be enjoyed by all ages because it explores the universal topic of friendship. There is very minimal dialogue as well, so can be understood by many.
We want audiences to go away and think about their friends and friendships. As well as to, of course, think “ooh, wasn’t that good?”
We also want audiences to go away thinking differently about what it means to be Disabled.
Expect to be surprised by the physicality.
2) How did it come about?
Daryl Beeton: Very good question. I’m always intrigued that as a Disabled person using crutches or a wheelchair, people see those as a restriction. The idea that they’re seen as something restrictive is what inspired the production. They're not restrictive, they’re enabling. I go very fast in my wheelchair.. People always gasp and say “Oh you’re faster than me” and I reply “Of course, I can go faster than you, I’ve got wheels!” it grew out of that. Actually, you can move very differently if you’re using a chair and can move quickly. I wanted to do the show exploring that physicality.
I knew that I wanted to look at the idea of movement and independence. Looking at that interesting age at 7+ when children grow in independence.
I asked myself who would be a good artist to work with? And I knew the company I wanted is Mimbre. Mimbre was on board straight away, we met in a cafe that was funnily enough inaccessible.
We started by bringing together a group of young people to be part of a playtime exploration.
Fun fact 1: Originally, Look Mum, No Hands! was going to be about a child and their parent or guardian. But through working with young people themselves in Leicester with The Spark Arts for Children and in London with the Mimbre Youth Programme and Graeae’s Young Company we were inspired to look at the story of two friends instead. It became more exciting to develop the storyline we have now.
Fun fact 2:Look Mum, No Hands! is basically the story of how Daryl Beeton and Lina Johansson (the two co-directors) became friends.
3) How do you feel about touring with house?
Daryl & Co and Mimbre: We’re really excited because we resonate with the ethos of house: of taking a chance on a show you might not usually go to. Such openness is what makes for great new memories and beautiful shared moments, it allows you to learn about and understand things you may have never thought of before. And of course, that feels like a perfect setting for Look Mum, No Hands! because taking risks and trying new experiences is at the heart of the show.
4) Tell us a bit about yourselves?
The cast and creative team come from varied backgrounds, are incredibly talented and are also the loveliest group of people, if we say so ourselves - our impromptu dance parties during rehearsals and touring are a testament to that.
Daryl & Co. is a Disabled-led company who make accessible theatre to delight young audiences and their families both in the Uk and overseas. Established by Director and performer, Daryl Beeton who has worked extensively within the Theatre, Disability and young people’s arts sector for the last 25 years.
Mimbre are a female-led producing company, creating acrobatic theatre for outdoor and unusual settings, touring nationally and internationally, with a strong digital presence. It was founded in 1999 by Lina Johansson, Silvia Fratelli and Emma Norin, two Swedes and an Italian who were studying at the National Centre for Circus Arts at the time.
5) If you had to sum up your show in one sentence what would it be?
Daryl & Co and Mimbre: Not necessarily a sentence but keywords, but we hope this gives you a good idea beyond our regular marketing copy:
Playful. Surprising. Visual.
But also, beautiful. Risky. Honest.
6) How hard is it to get new work out there?
Daryl & Co and Mimbre: Because the subject matter of our show deals with accessibility and combines theatre, dance and circus in a lighthearted but considered way there has been wide interest in it.
However, without the support of funders, touring networks and consortiums it would be difficult! And because of those barriers there is a lot of work that goes into touring a show, beyond the creative work.
You can catch Look Mum, No Hands! at Offbeat Festival in Oxford on 17 June, International Festival Milton Keynes on the 29 - 30 July and Spin Out Festival in Worthing on the 5 August.