DYS(the)LEXI was a festival celebrating a diverse group of dyslexic and dyspraxic writers, poets, animators, performance artists, filmmakers, musicians, and visual artists. It is now a registered charity. It also produced DYSSING MONADYS. The festival ran from March 20-25, 2007 at The Barons Court Theatre in London.
Lennie Varvarides: “Coming from a visual art and theatre background, my stories are often mixed up and the styles are quite confused. Once upon a time, this was frustrating. But now, I love the inconsistency of my own imagination. My mantra, ‘nothing happens until you push,’ pretty much sums me up. I do theatre stuff because its the only thing I know how to do with out getting bored or tired, and I create these lucid worlds because they are often more wonderful then the routine of my day job. I don’t like rules, and after spending a few years living and working in New York City–writing, directing and producing my own work–I realised that I don’t need to follow anyone elses. The old saying, ‘build it and they will come’ motivated me to set up missfit Productions, with the help of some very good mates. I like people, so email me if you have an idea or want to partner up on a project.”
Rachel Barnett is co-producer of DYS(the)LEXI. After leaving Central School of Speech and Drama, where she completed a Masters in Advanced Theatre Practice, Rachel was selected to take part in a yearlong BBC/Royal Court initiative to nurture fifty young emerging playwrights across the UK. She is currently writer on attachment at Chichester Festival Theatre, supported by a grant from the Peggy Ramsay Foundation. Rachel is also writer on attachment at Sphinx Theatre Company. Her recent plays include LOL, an education play for West Sussex schools, Toxic, for the Royal Court and a promenade adaptation of Dickens’ Sketches by Boz for Chichester Festival Theatre. She is currently working on a number of different projects including co-producing and dramaturging a festival of works for dyslexic playwrights, poets, and performance artists and lots of different writing projects.
Natasha Oxley trained as an actor at LAMDA and as an acting coach at Central. She also has a degree in Theatre Studies and Polish from the University of Glasgow and has completed the Royal Court Young Writer’s Programme. She is assisting with the running of DYS(the)LEXI.
Nicola Werenowska is a dyspraxic playwright and mentor/tutor for students with neuro-diverse learning profiles. She is committed to raising awareness of neurodiversity and in particular its relationship to creativity. She has had two plays produced at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester, and her new play, Peapickers, has been commissioned by Eastern Angles and will tour East Anglia in Spring 2007.
Dann Casswell: Studying for an MA in creative writing, Dann Casswell has had a short story published on BBC Radio 4 and another on BBC Somerset Sound. He has been short listed in the Wells and the Frome short story competitions. Dann currently works part-time for What MountainBike Magazine as a features writer and sub-editor. He also works for Bath Spa University as a student fellow, helping students to achieve excellence in creative multimedia work. It is this work that led him into the world of video poetry. Dann was diagnosed dyslexic while studying for a BA in creative writing and sociology. He was awarded a first class degree.
Adesola Akinleye has worked as an performance artist and choreographer for 20 years, beginning her career with the Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1985. Akinleye had her own dance company and arts center in New York in 1990s as well as taught at the State University of New York–Stony Brook in the theatre faculty. In 2001, Akinleye and family moved to Manitoba where she started dancingstrong, a performance and education company working in schools all over Manitoba–including in schools on First Nation resevations. She worked on the artistic team at the Manitoba Theatre for Young People the production of The Power of Harriot ‘T’ and Odysisus. Akinleye also taught in the the physical education faculty at the University of Manitoba for two years. In 2005, Akinleye moved back to England. She recently won the Bonnie Bird New Choreographers Award and the ADAD Trailblazers Award. Her work uses a fusion of dance, image, and film. This play will be her first that does not involve a strong dance element.
Justin Rhyme: Whether comically laconic about his love life, rudely ranting about racists, or passionately poo-etic about poo, Justin has had his wicked way with audiences at poetry evenings, comedy gigs, and festivals all over the world (but mostly in Kent). A warm and accomplished compere, his Don’t Feed the Poets spoken word cabaret show has long been at the forefront of the south coast’s poetry scene, enthusiastically endorsed by The Insight as “always brilliant” and recently nominated for best literature event at Brighton Festival 2006. Justin is an energetic and popular performer in both primary and secondary schools. He was recently commissioned by Canterbury City Council to write seven new Canterbury Tales for children, and these are currently touring schools in ten British cities as part of European City of Culture Friend-Ship Project. He has also written specially commissioned poetry for weddings, plays for children and adults (with The You, Me and Everybody Drama Group) and periodically performs with the anarchic three piece punk band The Paracetamols. He owns three hats but can’t find any of them.
Mike Juggins: artist, educator, filmmaker. Dartmouth-based Mike has campaigned for greater understanding and appreciation of dyslexia for seven years. He is well known in the world of dyslexia and has lectured and shown films internationally. He is a talented painter, inventive filmmaker, inspirational educator–and not very modest.
Tasha Hollywood is an indie animator and video artist. She started making films in 2002 after discovering she had a flair for writing scripts whilst taking time out after a car accident. Before that, she worked as a taxi driver–amongst other things–but has been limited by what she can do because she is very dyslexic. Tasha left school on her 16th birthday with no qualifications. She lives in North West London with her two children Pasht 17 and Greg 11 in temporary accommodation since moving from Bristol. Tasha is currently at college doing a HNC in media and working making music videos. As well as video art and animation, Tasha enjoys making music also. Tasha is a multi-talented artist, but has always been too poor to do much with her skills until recently–due to the technological revolution.
Dominic Mitchell has been a member of the Royal Court Young Writer’s Programme and the Soho Young Writer’s Programme. He has had performances of his plays on at various London venues, including The Hampstead Theatre, The Clerkenwell Theatre, and The Soho Theatre. Last year, Dominic had three of his plays professionally produced; Acquaintances and National Amnesty at the Pleasance Theatre and Violins at the Broadway Theatre, Barking. He is currently writer in residence for Blue Roses Theatre Company and writer on attachment at the Polka Theatre.
Nim Folb began misspelling words and omitting punctuation in delicately un-composed incomprehensible sentence constructions for a proper purpose in 2003, when she co-wrote and performed in a play for The Camberwell Live Arts Festival. Thanks to the inspiring Shinri and the Mediators, she later had the opportunity to experiment with solo performances in conjunction with the Hackney Wick Arts Foundation and The Creative Swing. In 2004, Riot Angel 2 published her poem Bathtub and Chora appeared in Summer Daze. She performed to the hum of a didgeridoo at Unplugged (2005) in Qingdao, P.R. China and soon after-while the nuns where in Korea-she recorded her first poetry album with Mimmo on the guitar-late at night in a freezing Fraternity in Brixton. In 2006 she initiated a PhD at Goldsmiths University and started Rebelling Against Spelling Press (RASP), with the aim of raising the profile of writers creative dyslexic.
Emma Elliott: teacher, therapist. Aim: empower, inspire, enlighten. Belief: all that is wise and workable lives within. Approach: providing a toolkit for life through spiritual, philosophical, technological and learn to learn methodologies. From my heart to yours: “let my poetry and prose hold you in the moonlight and embrace your dreams.”
Nisha Anil studied Theatre at Dartington College of Arts in Devon. Gained experience in Arts Management, Marketing, and Devising for live performance since 2001.
Patrick Mackeown (non-dyslexic participant) is the author of the thriller novel, The Expendability Doctrine, which comes highly recommended by The Midwest Book Review. His political satires are popular on American websites. He once trained as a chef. And his poetry is featured in a diverse range of places from cookery columns to formal poetry anthologies.
Catherine Guy has appeared in diverse roles and is currently planning an independent radio drama production. She is playing the roles of Char and Grandma in Adesola Akinleye’s play, River.
Dina Plotch, a born and raised New Yorker, came to London to fulfill her dream of performing on the West End….Well, Barons Court ain’t too shabby either. She’s very excited to play Lilly in Adesola Akinleye’s “River”, and hopes you are too!
Camila Fiori: Coming from a mixed performance and visual arts background, Camila has explored various aspects of the arts as a means of bridging the gaps between fantasy and reality, audience and performer. Recurrent themes run through all her work weaving a colourful tapestry whose form is gradually unravelling. Now working as an actress (credits ranging from Barbican to BBC), she is taking this opportunity to experiment bringing her own poetry off the page. Until recently, she thought writing streams of consciousness was a part of everyone’s life. Having used her writing in video installations and experimental pieces exploring performance and the performative in the past, this intimate event is the first time she is directly sharing her own poetry.
The Arts Dyslexia Trust Adult Dyslexia Organisation Strawberry Cheesecake