What the pandemic has taught us about disability and what we still have to learn

If non-disabled artists listen to those with chronic illness and disabilities, we may yet re-build as a kinder, more robust arts industry that is ready for anything and anyone, argues Fleur Kilpatrick.

In the last year, our industry experienced a crash course in living at the mercy of disease. We’ve all learnt a lot about resilience, adaptability and living life without planning too far ahead: making, cancelling and re-imagining art at the whims of illness. These are all things that many of our colleagues with chronic health conditions and disabilities have known for years.

Now, as the COVID-19 vaccine enters the arms of Australians for the first time, this is the moment to reflect on what we have learnt and what we still have to learn. If non-disabled artists listen to those with chronic illness and disabilities, we may yet re-build as a kinder, more robust arts industry that is ready for anything and anyone.

Unlock Padlock Icon

Like this content?

Become a Member and unlock unlimited Access today

Fleur Kilpatrick
About the Author
Fleur Kilpatrick is an award-winning playwright, a director and arts commentator. She holds a postgraduate diploma of directing and a Masters in playwriting from the VCAM. She is the co-founder of Lonely Company, working to support emerging playwrights create sustainable careers, and was previously the Assistant Lecturer at Monash Centre for Theatre and Performance. Fleur’s plays have won the 2019 Helen Noonan Award (Whale), the 2018 Max Afford Playwrights Award (Whale), 2016 Jill Blewett Award (Blessed, Poppy Seed Festival) and 2015 Melbourne Fringe’s Emerging Playwright Award (The City They Burned, Melbourne Fringe, Brisbane Festival). In 2019, she directed her adaptation of Slaughterhouse Five to critical acclaim and Whale premiered at Darebin Speakeasy. In 2018 her play Terrestrial toured South Australia with the State Theatre Company of South Australia and her play Yours the Face received a new production in Sydney. Writing credits include Insomnia Cat Came to Stay (Quiet Little Fox, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth Fringe, Brisbane Festival, TINA), Yours the Face (Quiet Little Fox, Adelaide Fringe, Perth Fringe,Flight Festival) and Welcome to Nowhere co-written with Daniel Keene, Angus Cerini, Zoey Dawson and Morgan Rose (Monash University). In 2016 she directed Julius Caesar for Essential Theatre (Melbourne, Adelaide and Edinburgh) and Slaughterhouse Five for MUST (which she also adapted). She appears fortnightly on 3RRRs Smart Arts with Richard Watts and was the co-host of the podcast Contact Mic with Sarah Walker until 2018.