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Jane Martin: Disability and Writing her Own Path Into Theatre

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Jane Martin

Jane Martin and her path to theatre

Jane Martin has always had a passion for theatre. She describes how her interest stems from wanting to be a detective or a writer at the young age of five. Given her diagnosis of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis when she was two years old, Jane opted to be a writer. She had both hips replaced when she was 19 and had difficulty walking. After suffering a bad break to her leg in 2010, she was then reliant on wheels to get around. This quashed her hopes of being able to run after ‘baddies’ if she chose to be a detective.

Her passion for theatre

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There is so much more to Jane’s story because she hasn’t let physical limitations hold her back. She has taken her love of writing and theatre and carved out some amazing achievements throughout the years.

I asked Jane where her interest in the theatre began. She told me, “I became interested in theatre when I was about eight, trying to get my school friends to perform Wind in the Willows. I was very lucky to grow up near a small amateur theatre in Surrey which gave me experience in most aspects of theatre. I have written and directed a number of plays, but when I moved from Surrey to Lowestoft in Suffolk in 2009, I took a break from theatre.”

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Jane also credits her parents as a major influence, having been season ticket holders at the Redgrave Theatre in Farnham. This allowed her to see more theatre than she would if her family just bought tickets to selected plays.

Jane Martin

Writing her own plays

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She wrote a play in 2019, with the plan to take it to Edinburgh Fringe in 2020. ‘Overlooked’ features a character who is a wheelchair user.  Jane says, “Instead, I wrote a 15-minute monologue which I performed and filmed as part of the online festival. That was when I decided I needed to continue with the project but perform the role of the wheelchair user myself. I’d always shied away from performing – most roles required more physicality than I could give. Then I did some voice acting for a comedy soap I wrote with a friend for community radio, and really enjoyed it. Making the film was a step closer to performing live. It helped that I got some really positive feedback.”

From writing to acting

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After relocating to Manchester with her husband, Jane watched a production at Guidebridge Theatre shortly after lockdown, which later became the first stage she performed on. First in Morecambe and Wise’s Mastermind sketch, then in the premier of Overlooked. She worked with other theatre members to create more material for production. This led to the creation of the writer’s group, Writers INK, and Fresh Voices, which will showcase four new one-act plays and two monologues.

These new productions include overlooked, and also The Ink Runs Dry by TV McKaren, which is directed by Jane.  Performances take place between 13 and 15 April at Guidebridge Theatre, and you can see Overlooked performed in Edinburgh from 14 to 19 August 2023.

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As if all that wasn’t enough, Jane has a literary agent for her YA novel featuring a teenage protagonist with a disability. So, keep an eye on the shelves of your local bookstore, because her book may be there someday.

If you’re local to Guidebridge, or just visiting the area and feeling inspired, you can also attend (and maybe even perform at) one of the quarterly spotlight nights held at Guidebridge Theatre and hosted by Jane. The first night back in January was an enormous success, with poets, storytellers, musicians and even a magician performing to an audience in a packed-out room.

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His Sickled Journey: A Must-Watch on Generation Black TV

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His Sickled Journey

His Sickled Journey is a short film being shown on Generation Black TV. This compelling narrative follows Femi, a serial over-thinker, as he learns the ins and outs of sickle cell anemia to support his new girlfriend, Chanice. The film highlights the importance of understanding and empathy in relationships, especially when dealing with chronic illnesses.

The Storyline of His Sickled Journey

In His Sickled Journey, Femi is happily coasting in honeymoon avenue with his new girlfriend, Chanice. However, his anxiety begins to rise after she reveals that she has the genetic condition sickle cell anemia. Determined to be there for her, Femi decides to learn everything he can about the condition. As he undergoes this journey, he grows closer to Chanice, but his overthinking ways threaten to sabotage their budding romance.

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Inspiration Behind His Sickled Journey

The concept for His Sickled Journey was inspired by Her Sickled Journey, a personal blog about sickle cell awareness founded by Tito Oye. Tito is a 23-year-old London-based tenancy manager and lover of life. She has always had a passion for helping others and writes to help people realize that sickle cell doesn’t need to define their entire identity. Her blog serves as a beacon of hope and education for those affected by the condition.

Meet the Cast: David Ajayi

His Sickled Journey stars David Ajayi, a British-born actor with Nigerian heritage. Raised in South London, David studied Accounting & Finance at Coventry University before training at Identity School of Acting. In addition to acting, David is a writer, presenter, producer, and director, known for the comedy web series Minister in Training and the short film series Moments. He also has a music persona known as Gbenga De Rapper.

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Watch His Sickled Journey on Generation Black TV

His Sickled Journey is more than just a film; it’s an educational experience that brings awareness to sickle cell anemia. Generation Black TV is committed to showcasing diverse stories that resonate with a wide audience. By watching this film, viewers will gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by those living with sickle cell anemia and the importance of support and empathy in relationships.

The Impact of His Sickled Journey

His Sickled Journey not only entertains but also educates its audience about sickle cell anemia. It’s a powerful story of love, understanding, and overcoming personal fears. The film’s portrayal of Femi’s journey to support Chanice highlights the importance of learning about and understanding chronic conditions to build stronger, more empathetic relationships.

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Don’t Miss His Sickled Journey on Generation Black TV

His Sickled Journey
His Sickled Jouney

Tune in to Generation Black TV to watch His Sickled Journey. This short film promises to deliver a heartfelt story that will leave a lasting impact. With its strong performances and meaningful storyline, it’s a must-watch for anyone interested in stories about love, empathy, and personal growth.

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Bridgerton Season 3: A Milestone in Representation?

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Bridgerton Season 3

The popular Netflix series “Bridgerton” has always been celebrated for its diverse and inclusive storytelling. In its third season, the show has taken a significant step forward in representation by including characters with disabilities and those who are neurodivergent. This move has garnered widespread praise from fans, especially for its nuanced portrayal of these characters. Here’s how “Bridgerton” Season 3 is making waves in disability representation.

Bridgerton Disability Representation Shines in Season 3

“Bridgerton” fans are praising the disability representation in Season 3, which features characters with diverse abilities. Among them, Francesca Bridgerton, played by Hannah Dodd, has captivated audiences with her introverted and musically inclined personality, leading many to believe she is “autistic-coded.” This subtle yet impactful portrayal is a testament to the show’s commitment to inclusivity.

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Nuanced Portrayal of Disabled Characters

Season 3 introduces Dolores Stowell, a young debutante who communicates using British Sign Language (BSL), played by Kitty Devlin, and her mother, Lady Stowell, portrayed by Sophie Woolley, who is deaf. This authentic representation of deaf characters using BSL has resonated deeply with viewers. Another notable character is Lord Remington, played by Zak Ford-Williams, who uses a wheelchair. His character’s integration into the social fabric of the Bridgerton world without being marginalized has been particularly praised.

Autistic-Coded Characters in Bridgerton

Fans have also speculated that Francesca Bridgerton and her love interest, John Stirling, exhibit traits often associated with autism. Francesca’s preference for small, intimate gatherings and her deep passion for music have led many to interpret her as autistic-coded. Similarly, John’s interactions and behaviors suggest traits of both autism and ADHD, creating a rich, layered portrayal that viewers have found incredibly relatable.

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Fans Praise Bridgerton’s Inclusive Approach

The inclusion of these characters has sparked a positive reaction on social media, with fans expressing their appreciation for the show’s thoughtful and respectful depiction of disabilities and neurodivergence. One fan commented, “Can we just talk about the disability representation in #BridgertonS3 for a minute? Not only is there a deaf actress using BSL to communicate on-screen, but there’s also an eligible suitor in a wheelchair. Not to mention the fact that Fran & John are autistic coded AF.”

A Step Forward in Media Representation

By featuring characters with disabilities and those who are neurodivergent, “Bridgerton” challenges the misconception that these conditions are modern phenomena. The show highlights that individuals with diverse abilities have always existed and deserve representation in all forms of media, including historical dramas. This representation not only enriches the narrative but also provides a mirror for audiences to see themselves and their experiences reflected on screen.

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“Bridgerton” Season 3 has set a new standard for disability representation in media. By thoughtfully including characters with diverse abilities and neurodivergent traits, the show fosters a more inclusive and empathetic view of the world. This approach has resonated deeply with fans, proving that representation matters and can make a significant impact on viewers.

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Drake’s Involvement in Media Maelstrom Involving disabled Journalist Christopher Alvarez

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Drake Alvarez

Journalist Christopher Alvarez has been dragged into a media maelstrom, facing intense online speculation and ugly rumors, including false accusations of a physical altercation with Drake. Although Alvarez uses a wheelchair, he gets around and has enjoyed rubbing shoulders with celebrities and international pop stars, including DJ Khaled, and has aspired to become a broadcast journalist since high school. Alvarez has refuted the false accusations, emphasizing the need to stop spreading misinformation and highlighting the impact of this debacle on both himself and Drake.

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One thing that Ebony Prince has been heavily implying is that something happened between Drake, his team and Christopher Alvarez, a journalist who suffers from thanatophoric dysplasia type 2 and requires ventilator support to keep him alive. The accusation that Jimmy Brooks, the disabled character that Drake played on Degrassi, would not be happy with Drake that night, meant to a lot of people that Drake or one of his team mistreated him in some way.

Today, Christopher Alvarez has come out to clear the air. He talks about how we’re in a post-truth era where misinformation and perception rule.  He recently wrote for the Brooklyn Eagle regarding the Drake debacle: “I found myself at the center of a social media storm. As a journalist with a disability, I have faced unique challenges in navigating this ‘post-truth’ society”.

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Living as a journalist in a ‘post-truth’ society presents a myriad of obstacles. The constant battle against fake news, the pressure to maintain a strong social media presence, and the risk of becoming a target for cyberbullying are just a few of the challenges that journalists face in today’s digital age.

For journalists with disabilities, these challenges can be even more daunting. The need to constantly engage with social media platforms can be physically and mentally exhausting, especially for those with mobility or sensory impairments. Additionally, the risk of facing discrimination and ableism in online spaces adds an extra layer of complexity to the already demanding job of a journalist.

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Despite these challenges, journalists with disabilities have a unique perspective to offer in the fight against disinformation. Our lived experiences give us a deeper understanding of the importance of accurate and truthful reporting. We have the opportunity to advocate for more inclusive and accessible digital spaces, and to push back against the spread of fake news.

In order to thrive in this ‘post-truth’ society, journalists with disabilities must prioritize self-care and seek out supportive communities. We must also continue to advocate for greater accessibility and inclusivity in digital media, and work towards creating a more truthful and ethical online landscape.

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As a journalist with a disability, I am committed to navigating the challenges of living in a ‘post-truth’ society while continuing to uphold the values of honest and accurate reporting. It is my hope that by sharing my experiences, I can inspire others in similar positions to do the same.

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