Undercover Artist Festival is all about providing a platform for incredible performing arts projects by artists with disability – and promoting their ongoing success. We’re so excited to see Brown Church this weekend at The Tivoli during Brisbane Festival.
To celebrate, we spent five minutes with Naavikaran to ask some quick questions about her time at Undercover Artist Festival and how Brown Church has evolved in the past year.
What was it like being on stage at Undercover Artist Festival 2021 debuting Brown Church?
Being a part of the UAF in 2021 was an incredibly special experience. When folk from various marginalized identities get to make theatre, there is very often very little space to allow for our complexities.
Because the festival was disability led, it made some genuine efforts to recognize the many ways that queer folk and POC are also disadvantaged, which allowed for a lot of creative freedom. The audience that the festival offered was more caring and engaging than the mainstream population, and it felt safe to be a part of the overall experience.
What does disability-led arts mean to you and your career moving forward?
UAF 2021 informed a very crucial part of The Naavikaran Collective’s values i.e. our focus to access and community engagement. It solidified our already previous intentions of developing and producing works that are thoroughly collaborative, led by the holistic agency of the creatives involved and to offer an experience that not just is safe and entertaining for the audience, but also challenges wider systems of harm.
The Naavikaran Collective is deeply invested in supporting women and non-binary creatives who are First Nations and POC through our productions, processes and engagements, which also means that our creatives, audiences, stakeholders, etc. often either are disabled or are related to someone who is disabled.
Being Disability-Led to me means considering the wider context of lack of access and creating opportunities for storytelling and engagement that are holistically accessible.
How important is it for artists with disability to have the opportunity to be represented in performing arts?
I don’t think that anyone is truly liberated until the most marginalized person is. And therefore, disabled artists – especially those who are queer, First Nations, POC) should be at the forefront of receiving good, well-paid, accessible and sustainable opportunities in the performing arts.
How does the upcoming Brown Church at Brisbane Festival compare to the 2021 debut at Undercover Artist Festival?
The upcoming production of Brown Church has a bigger cast, with richer music, extravagant costuming and some very magical additions to the choreography. It’s big slay!
You’ve planned for Auslan Interpretation and Audio Description, and you’ve offered discounted tickets to disabled people. Can you tell us why you think accessibility is important for Brown Church?
As a brown trans and disabled woman, a majority of my liberation comes from the sacrifices advocacy and revolutions of other Black, Brown, Indigenous and queer disabled folk across the world.
I especially want folk from these intersections to be able to feel safe to come be a part of the Brown Church legacy.
We have a long way to go towards making theatre and performance spaces safer for our communities. Brown Church is just our way of making that conversation come to light and towards taking steps for holistic liberation.
Did you miss Brown Church at last year’s UAF, or want to experience it all over again?
You’re in luck! Our friends at CPL – Choice, Passion, Life are presenting partners of Brown Church at this year’s Brisbane Festival and have shared an exclusive discount with us!
All CPL and UAF followers can access tickets at concession pricing (of $30) – simply select concession tickets at the checkout. Better still, ‘Community’ tickets are $25 for anyone who identifies as trans, First Nations, Indigenous, Disabled, BIPOC, or low/unwaged.
Don’t forget to arrive early to enjoy all the festivities served to you by Meanjin-based revolution, the Naavikaran Collective.
Head to Brisbane Festival to purchase tickets to Brown Church here