Rollercoaster is a not-for-profit ensemble of trained actors with intellectual disabilities from a wide range of backgrounds. We formed as a company to create ongoing opportunities for actors with disabilities in Melbourne.
Image courstesy of Nancy Flamea of Captiured Images
2020 ONLINE IN ISOLATION
The impact of lockdown on our theatre company has necessitated a diversifying of our artistic practice to work with our ensemble via the challenging medium of ZOOM. Continuing sessions has been essential for our actors and their carers/families, and finding ways to springboard potent and meaningful creative interactions with our ensemble during isolation - via the internet - has been critical for us.
Our focus has been to provide purposeful engagement - while comprehending and supporting anxiety around COVID 19 - through creativity. Of paramount importance has been creating a safe environment to address the debilitating social isolation many of our ensemble are experiencing. For some, our sessions are their only form of social interaction outside the home and are crucial for mental health and wellbeing.
The emerging work from our sessions has involved investigating our responses to world leaders as they respond to the global pandemic. The clip we are developing is both a parody and a commentary of this strange moment in time, as seen through the eyes of our actors. Our target audience is within social media platforms (including tik tok and instagram) as we challenge broadly held misconceptions of disability within the vast reach of popular culture.
MOON TO MELBOURNE
ROLLERCOASTER IN EDUCATION
“By expanding the company's practice into arts-in-education, we aim to provide the individual ensemble members with the opportunity to develop their own personal agency, and gain meaningful paid employment opportunities while working within the supportive environment of the company.” Sarah Sutherland, Artistic Director
Rollercoaster Theatre’s one-of-a-kind primary school program recognises the social responsibility of art and promotes social change by challenging exclusion and marginalisation and by celebrating people of all abilities.
Devised and developed by our ensemble and creative team, this program offers a half hour performance of our work with the ensemble of actors ( for an audience of up to 100 students) followed by smaller, experiential, interactive theatrical workshops led by the ensemble and designed for primary school students from Prep to Grade 2.
Our latest work ‘The Moon to Melbourne’ offers an insight into the world of the astronaut, exploring the vastness and separateness of being outside of ‘normal’ spaces. With each workshop led and facilitated by our actors, this immersive arts experience is designed to engage and encourage children to include and appreciate people of all abilities, while advocating for the skills of people with disabilities by:
· providing a participatory process of learning and engagement which deliberately dismantles barriers between individuals of all ages, cultural, economic and social backgrounds
· positioning people with intellectual disabilities in leadership roles with those who may have had limited interaction with people who 'look' or 'sound' different.
· bringing people together in new and creative ways
· engaging with children before assumptions are formed
Our pilot programs have demonstrated that these workshops address a number of profound social needs, including encouraging the ensembles’ contribution to and connection with people from different facets of the community.
Premiering at Tropfest 2019 (the largest short film festival in the world!), Comican’t is the first film from Rollercoaster Pictures. An epic adventure film with a cast comprised of actors with a range of intellectual disabilities, our film was selected as one of 16 finalists from a pool of hundreds of films. At the awards ceremony in February 2019, Comican’t was awarded a coveted second prize for Best Film, and our male leads Ryan New and Andrew Tressider, tied for joint Best Male Lead Actor. With a live audience of nearly 20,000 on the night, the film has now been viewed by over a million people.
"The film was a big win for all of the actors in our company, and a great step towards real diversity in what we view and what we are interested in viewing.
“It was important to try and push the envelope of what we see on screen and who we see on screen … and for it not so much to be a matter of trying to change peoples minds by telling them what to think, but rather make a story like this one which is fun and amazing…the disability is more of a backdrop and has nothing to do with the story … it‘s just three people in the world and on an adventure.” Comican’t Director, Rory Kelly