Undercover Artist exists to profile and promote outstanding work by performing artists with disability.
Collectively these artists and individuals expressed a need for more opportunities for professional performing artists with disability to present their work, and better representation in the industry, particularly by Australia’s major performing arts companies.
In 2015, the Undercover Artist Festival was formed and led by founding Festival Director Belinda Locke, a role which was then taken on by Harmonie Downes for the following festival in 2017. Both women are professional arts practitioners who identify as experiencing disability.
Artists from across Australia gathered on Turrbal and Jagera Country at Queensland Theatre in Brisbane to showcase their work at this disability-led festival. Accessible to all artists and audiences, the festival features theatre, dance, music and cabaret performances, works-in-progress, installation art, stand-up comedy, workshops, and forums.
In 2020, Access Arts curated Undercover Artist: Online, a showcase of works in development under consideration for the Festival in 2021.
Image: Andi Snelling performing “Happy Go Wrong” at 2021 Undercover Artist Festival.
Photography by Jade Ellis Photography
Recognising the potential of many artists and the sometimes inaccessible development options available, 2022 saw the introduction of Undercover Artist Career Workshops. These workshops aimed to provide performing artists with disability or who are d/Deaf an opportunity to grow their careers through grant writing techniques, Allyship, CV development skills and understanding expressions of interest opportunities.
The purpose of the workshops is to provide skills that may be inaccessible to artists through traditional training modes, in an effort to support more artists with disability to build their arts careers.
Looking forward to 2023, the Undercover Artist Development Program aims to support artists through grant funding, ongoing one on one mentoring and most importantly, getting new and upcoming artists stage ready. With one artist from the Development Program securing their spot on stage at Undercover Artist Festival 2023.
Alongside the Development Program, led by Madeleine Little Undercover Artist Festival will be back September 2023 rolling out the red carpet, promising audiences the most daring performances from comedy, music, cabaret, theatre, dance so much more.
Image: Lauren Watson during her performance art piece Nerve, with a disassembled wheelchair hanging from the air using rope and aerial ribbon.
Madeleine Little (she/her) is a performer, theatre maker and access consultant for the performing arts based in Brisbane. Her acting credits include her recent work as Dr Emma Brookner in The Normal Heart (2022, Ad Astra Theatre) and as the lead in Hold (2019), which she also wrote, directed and produced for her Master of Arts (Creative Arts) research testing accessible theatre practice conventions in a new work.
As an actor, Madeleine has been recognised for her performance as Dr Emma Brookner in The Normal Heart (Ad Astra Theatre) with a Matilda Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in an Independent Production.
As a leader in the disability arts sector, Madeleine currently sits on the board of Arts Access Australia and has received multiple awards: Early Career Artist Award – Australia Council’s National Arts and Disability Awards (2022), National Leadership Award – Arts Access Australia (2019), Stella Young Award – Arts Access Victoria (2018). Madeleine holds Master of Arts (Creative Arts – UniSQ) and Bachelor of Fine Arts (Drama – QUT). For more, visit her website: madeleinelittle.com
Image: Madeleine Little’s headshot, photography by Nick Morrissey
Rebekkah Law (Bek) (they/she) is a white, queer, producer, director and performer who lives, works and plays on the stolen lands of the Yuggera, Yugambeh and Turrbal peoples.
They have a strong curiosity for playful creative processes and a wealth of experience connecting with diverse and varied communities on creative arts projects and festivals.
Alongside producing for Undercover Artist Festival and Squirt Productions, Bek has an active practice as a theatre director and maker.
Recent credits include a sold out season of Betty Sweetlove’s new play, The Nestmakers at DesertFestival (2022); Director/ Performer/Producer in Squirt Production’s Starter Boyfriend (2021); Director/Performer in Bazil Grumble’s youth program of Active School Travel, Waste Smart Kindies and The Bazil Grumble Christmas Show (2022-23) and; Anywhere Award Winning show, Dream a House, facilitated by Sarah Winter.
Image: Rebekkah Law’s headshot, photography by Simon Woods