You Will Fail Her


Panel Discussions and Debate about Dyslexia, Mental Health and Educational Reform. Thursday 21 – Friday 22 September 2017, 7PM – 10PM, New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth

“You will enter a world of movie projection, giant balloons and the soundscape of your inner voice. You will revisit your own childhood and there among your memories, you will relive a trauma so unforgivable that even you will feel the guilt of a system that continues to fail its children.”

With the support of the Arts Council England, New Theatre Royal and The Flow Observatorium, DYSPLA has spent the last 8 months developing an R&D project called, YOU WILL FAIL HER; a performative installation that attacks Britain’s education system and condemns how it fails to properly teach neurodivergent children.

YOU WILL FAIL HER is a one-woman performative installation that weaves the audience into the tapestry of the protagonist’s life through immersive theatre, moving image projection and an interactive soundscape. The performance will address topical themes of State and Parental responsibilities, explore the emotional consequences of a failed educational system and, in light of the recent cuts to educational funding, prove that it is still the most vulnerable students in our society who continue to experience discriminative education.

Schools are facing 8 -10% funding cuts and are struggling to balance their budgets. In Portsmouth alone 216 Teachers will lose their jobs as a direct result of the cuts to the education budget. Teaching Assistants and SEN programmes will be slashed, while grammar schools will have their funding boosted. Angela Rayner, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, calls the continuation of grammar school funding “a vanity project” and says “they do not create school places for children who need them.”

After each performance Guest Speakers will lead a radical and forward-thinking debate, to explore ways to challenge the issues within Britain’s educational system and to promote how Dyslexic and neurodivergent students can still succeed within a defective system.


You Will Fail Her Immersive Theatre, Panel Discussions and Debate about Dyslexia, Mental Health and Educational Reform.
Two shows: Thursday 21 September 2017, 7PM – 10PM and Friday 22 September 2017, 7PM – 10PM
New Theatre Royal, Minghella Space, 20-24 Guildhall Walk, Portsmouth, PO1 2DD
023 9264 9000

Immersive theatre isn’t something that I know an awful lot about. I knew what it meant, but not until walking into the room did I understand it.

Being used to more traditional play formats, it came as a welcome surprise to experience what New Theatre Royal and DYSPLA (the arts organisation for dyslexic and neurodivergent storymakers) put on as an immersive theatre installation. No seats, no aisles, no popping out during the interval for a second beer, just a studio filled with 8ft balloons with a kaleidoscope of projections sprawled across them, bounding around the room.

Joined by 15 or so equally bewildered audience members, we were encouraged to explore the imaginative climate set out before us and to behave as we would any other day.

Powering through the ambient music and relaxed air – Janina Smith (our protagonist) displayed surging energy as she cut from a dyslexic school girl to her scathing teacher and back again, regularly evoking real emotion from audience members (myself included) just as the producers had intended: ‘You will revisit your own childhood and there among your memories, you will relive a trauma so unforgivable that even you will feel the guilt of a system that continues to fail its children.’

You Will Fail Her is a thought-provoking critique of Britain’s education system and how it deals with neurodivergent children. A touching two hours well spent.

Joe Stack

Reviewer, The News, Portsmouth

Janina Smith

Performer ('Protagonist')

Janina graduated from London Contemporary Dance School. She worked as a professional dancer for 3 years before turning her attention to acting. She has performed all over the world touring to Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the USA. Janina also regularly performs as a storyteller. In addition to her performance work, Janina works as a performance director and writer.

Amy Hoerler

Performer ('Hope')

Amy is an independent film actress based out of Florida. She has collaborated with Lennie Varvarides on various projects since 2002 and is always thrilled to perform. She wishes to express her extreme gratitude to all those involved in You Will Fail Her.

Charles Freeman

Project Management

Charles is a public policy professional. After 25 years experience working in the public sector–including five years with Sport England and six years as executive director of Culture South East (a regional agency with responsibility for embedding sport, tourism, heritage and cultural policy into regional economic and spatial planning strategies)–Charles established his own business specializing in creative industry development and culture/sport planning. Charles was assessed as being dyslexic at the age of six. Among other projects for the past four years, Charles has worked with Ravensbourne University to establish the SEEDS program (Self-Employment Entrepreneurship and Diversity). SEEDS specializes in supporting neuro-diverse graduates in making the transition from university to employment or self-employment. Charles also coordinates Creative Network South (a Solent-based creative industries partnership), and, in a voluntary capacity, Charles jointly runs a London-based network of dyslexic professionals.

Amanda Martin

Guest Speaker

Amanda is a teacher of 21 years, trade union activist for the NUT and now newly merged National Education Union. She has represented the union at a local, national and international level, is a member of think tank The New Vision for Education Group, is a mentor with The Girls Network, and is a trustee of The Lucy Lund Fund and TGET.  Amanda is a passionate campaigner for social justice and equal opportunities for all and truly believes that education, research and real life experiences can change people’s lives.

David Dixon

Guest Speaker

David is an artist, educator and project manager. He has run Andover’s Chapel Arts Studios (CAS) since their launch in 2009, developing it into a research-driven visual-arts organisation with a strong education programme and a focus on artist development and collaboration.

Gary Smith

Guest Speaker

Gary is a dyslexic and dyspraxia individual who founded Brainbook to build the ultimate assistive technology for dyslexic and visual people.

Jon Adams

Soundscape Artist

Jon works cross-platform in image, word, sound and performance, weaving in fragments of autobiography, science and hidden metaphor. The result is a unique visual perspective of recording and systemizing history, time and place. He actively feeds into arts policy and debate around neuro-divergence in the arts and is campaigning for parity for neuro-divergent artists through Flow Observatorium.

Laura Doye

Creative Director, New Theatre Royal

Laura joined the New Theatre Royal in 2012 having trained at London Contemporary Dance School. Her early career was as a contemporary dancer touring with Matthew Bourne. Laura shares her love of developing accessible and quality art through leadership of the Associate Artist programme.



DYSPLA is an award winning arts organisation producing and developing the work of dyslexic + neurodivergent story makers. We work in film, immersive theatre, installation & digital art. Incorporated in 2013 to shed light on Dyslexic Narrative and the Dyslexic Aesthetic DYSPLA is at the forefront of research into neurodivergent creativity.

New Theatre Royal


John Hicks

Guest Speaker

John is passionate about dyslexic potential and gives emotional support and advice about assistive technology to families touched by dyslexia. With a growing online following, John uses his Parenting Dyslexia Facebook group and Parenting Dyslexia blog to inform and raise awareness of how dyslexia affects studying and family life.

Gavin Hodson

Guest Speaker

Gavin is a director and co-founder of a Portsmouth-based non for profit company called The Maker’s Guild–an all-inclusive community makerspace based in the Guildhall. His background is built on a foundation of teaching in mainstream and special needs education over the last 22 years, supporting students and families with a wide range of complex learning requirements and needs. Gavin also has balanced his teaching work with delivering community art and environmental projects for all ages and abilities, working as an artist and commissioning public art. He is passionate about supporting and developing quality learning for all.

Lulu Whitmore

Guest Speaker

Lulu is a dyslexic individual who enjoys working with her local community and she founded Love Southsea, which won the Portsmouth business award for enterprise last year.

Ariana Lebron-Metzner


Ariana is an award nominated actress/movement director from the Dominican Republic and has worked in Puerto Rico, Europe and the Dominican Republic. She trained at London’s prestigious Trinity Laban and Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and trained with Dr. Ana Sanchez-Collberg, Trisha Brown, Frances Barbe, Ayse Tashkiran, Ruth Way and Eugenio Barba, among others. Ariana has a vast experience on movement directing and choreography. She teaches a workshop called the body architecture and the words of movement.



bielecki&bielecka are a dyslexic directing and writing duo who’ve been creating work together since 2011. As Arts Council England Funded filmmakers, they produce film, installation and live performance defined by social consciousness. bielecki&bielecka are Lennie Varvarides and Kazimir Bielecki.

Pennie Aston

Guest Speaker

Pennie is the director and founder of GroOops Dyslexia Aware Counselling & Coaching GroOops Dyslexia Aware Counselling–a registered charity focusing on developing resilience building, therapeutic, dyslexia aware approaches and promoting awareness generally of the emotional repercussions of dyslexia. With a charitable vision to create a healthy dyslexia aware world, GroOops’ approaches help develop a keen sense of integrated dyslexic identity based on self efficacy and self knowledge. Assessed as an adult, Pennie is dyslexic herself and has raised a neuro-diverse family.

Mark Sherin

Guest Speaker

Mark manages Lyndhurst Dyslexia Centre in South London. His roles include specialist dyslexia teacher, assessor, and teacher trainer. He acts as a consultant for various dyslexia charities, including the BDA and Made by Dyslexia. Mark is a dyslexic learner and a father of two dyslexic sons.

Jim Roberson

Guest Speaker

Jim is the author of The Discipline Coach. App creator. Helping to create aspirations for life through the power of education. An educationalist. He is a man who leaves an impression. His work is direct, passionate and powerful. Visit

Liz Weston

Guest Speaker

Liz’s experience includes a wide range of the arts including street theatre, community arts, political theatre and circus as well as education. She was community and education manager at the New Theatre Royal until 2015.

Mike Douglas

Guest Speaker

Mike is a mental health and lifestyle blogger and pod-caster. He regularly speaks about his own struggles with depression and invites guests onto his podcast to discuss their own experiences with mental health. Mike, who is also affected by dyslexia, can be found at

DYSPLA’s You Will Fail Her is an outstanding experience of immersive theatre to enable others to better understand and shed light on the Dyslexic Narrative. You will experience, through the eyes of a creative, imaginative and neuro-divergent young girl what it is like to be labelled by others and herself as thick, stupid and a problem. You will see and feel how the fury mounts up in her, turning into rage and uncontrollable behaviour. You are taken with her on a journey through her life of mounting frustration as she is forced to be someone she isn’t, losing her sense of herself, her very being and her f fun for life.

I help students like this every day, but even I was awoken to long forgotten emotions conspiring to crush individuals, which in today’s focus on the need for literacy skills is even stronger than when I was a child.

The Arts are uniquely places to start creating change. For it is the creative, imaginative, neuro-divergent children who are most affected, by being pressurised to think and learn in a way that doesn’t work for these big picture thinkers.

In addition, you will be struck by how little our politicians understand about the vital connections between Dyslexia, other learning differences, mental health and even Dementia.

What you will witness is a child’s strengths being ignored in favour of continually focusing on deficits. Once a child understands and values their own strengths, they can discover how to learn through those strength, making literacy simple and moving away from the current deficit paradigm.

Society needs all the “out of the box” thinkers to resolve the major challenges in the world today. You Will Fail Her is a major step towards enabling others to understand their challenges. Changing the paradigm is not just for those who struggle for literacy it is to enable all children to be more than any of them thought possible.

The panel discussion at the end also valuable created insights into real life experiences and the opinions of “experts” in the field.

Thank you DYSPLA and the actors for opening people’s minds with an exceptional performance. Every child, parent, teacher, politician and special needs expert would benefit from this experience, once they are open to new possibilities. Together we do have the skills not to fail our children.

Olive Hickmott

Forensic Learning Coach, Empowering Learning

List of participants in R&D workshops: Matthew Winters, Rhiannon Truscott, Holli Dillon, Tom Clear, Kristin Van Der Voort, Jimmi Liani-Carter, Natasha Langeley, Ferman Khan, Marie Myrie, Kalifa Macauley, Ariana Lebron, Simoni Valentina, Rajdeep Choudhury, Agathe Ferre, Jon Adams, Alex Forman, Diana, Anna-Maria Georgiades, Terry Mcloughin, Chryssanthi Kouri, Hellen Kirby, Alexander Kiffin, Charles Freeman, Ms. Dee Davis, Rebecca Ward, Donald Neufville, Ricardo Freitas, Samya Mohamed, Anthony Allgood, Marcia Brissett-Bailey, Lewis Molyneux, Beatrice Basso, Jamie Langlands, Durassie Kiangangu, Kat Dulfer, Sophie Montague, Fanny Dulin, Paula Blanco, Sergio Jaraiz, Molly Jenkins, Nina Schlautmann, Megan Affonso, Sara Laratro, Victoria Fayne, Marcin Mudyn, Ozonna Soludo, Clovis Kasanda, Jahmila Heath, Kiersten leslie, Rita Suszek, Richard Fitchett, Lamin Tamba, Lucy Christofi Patriotis, Oo Tun, Maria Cole, Aileen Archer, Sarit Wilson Chen, Cory Haas, George Burman, Charlotte Jennings, Masha Fistal, Alex Kapila, Sampisces Pervaiz, Georgie de Suys, Emma Robdale, Iona Stwrt-Rchdrsn, Mavin Rasheed, Claudia Fairman, Sam Woodhams, Donald Schloss, Alex Beighton, Natasha Zacher, Penelope Maclachan, Jason Kavan, Lauren McCullum, Lara Genovese, Arianna Roberts, Bram Dawidowicz, Georgie Hull, Melissa Veszi, Alexia Turchi, Natalie Teming-Amoaka, Roberto Trippini, Roxana Jury, James Rushbrooke, Zayne Nhd, Brian Coyle, Rachel Creeger, Lee Brockman, Claire Winter, Humayun Mirza, Nickesha Grant, Lee Taylor, Azra Ceylan, Steven Broad, Liz Hammond, Matthew Brandon