30 Oct 2021

DaDa: Theatre Makers Lab

Elaine Collins, a white woman with red hair wearing a sparkly, purple fringed dress stood in front of  red and yellow sparkly fringed curtain.

Image: Elaine Collins in DDDivas

Find out more about DaDa Theatre Makers in an interview with participant, Elaine Collins!


My name's Elaine Collins and I am a theatremaker. I've been a singer and performer as well - I still do sing and perform. I’m an actress currently doing an M.A in acting and theatre, but I had to stop due to Covid, so couldn’t continue sadly in the current circumstances.

I enjoy writing and devising and have been working on a project called DDDivas. It's kind of verging on a dark cabaret and it's about my experiences being a neurodivergent woman and with other disabilities, and of being a former magician's assistant.

Recently you've been involved in the DaDa Theatre Makers program. What has that been like and how has it affected your work?

It's a fabulous experience and we're all really pleased to have been on the program. We all feel as though we're moving somewhere and moving forward. We've all got incredible ideas as regards theatre and creating theatre and what we want to do. The reason we applied to be on it is because we all love DaDa so much!

What ideas and skills did you explore during Theatremakers?

We've explored directing – Nathan from 20 Stories High came to do a workshop which was fantastic. We devised a sort of improvisational piece surrounding an idea about the Berlin wall. How we came up with that I don’t know!

Then from there we've had another class with Katy McGunigle and that was to do with her experience of having cancer and the story that she created around that, which had been supported by and performed at DaDaFest. We had a really interesting writing class about  writing from personal experiences, how useful they can be in beginning the process of writing.

We've had a little film course with workshops and the opportunity to perform on camera - though it's not great seeing yourself on camera! However it was a really lovely experience. We all laughed at each other as well but it built our confidence up loads, just exploring film and being on film.

Towards the end of the course we all developed ideas which we presented to members of DaDa and those that are involved in different artistic capacities. Nickie Miles-Wildin was there and also Gordon Millar from Unity Theatre.

Tell us more about DDDivas.

In DDDivas I'm exploring attitudes and opinions of people when you're trying to be yourself. We're looking around that area about being yourself and taking control of your life because being a woman and being a disabled woman I've always had my body controlled by others. Or when you're working in the entertainment industry, you're owned. You're owned by the audience, you're owned by an agent, you're owned by other people. It's like other people have a huge amount of control over what you are and what your image is and who you are.

Do you have any advice for other disabled people who are starting out in theatre?

I'd say that everybody, everyone, disabled or not, has something to offer because everybody's got stories. I’m a storyteller and I think everybody has stories, everybody has experiences, everybody has something that's affected them or something that means something to them.

In that regard, everybody can be involved. If you're a theatre maker, if you want to develop that area and develop stories, even if it’s for TV or whatever you wish to go to, you can. I think the advice I'd give is give everything a try and go any route possible.

I was a singer and that's what I started off doing and then I've been a magician's assistant and I've been… gosh I've been various roles - acting and backstage, I was doing the costumes in Ugly Girl. You give everything a try because everything in theatre matters.

To get that production on stage for everybody to see, for an audience to be involved in that experience, there's lots of things going on and there's lots of people involved in making that happen, so no matter what it is give it a go and have a try because it's a new skill. Don't say ‘oh I'm not doing that’ or ‘I can't do that’. Give it a go. Try it, you might like it. You might find that’s your specific gift in a certain way so that's what I advise.

Give everything a go and never give up on your dreams.

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