After three successful seasons in South Australia in 2021, award-winning queer, disabled actor, playwright, and activist Jamila Main is bringing their play, Benched, to Melbourne and the Midsumma Festival. 

This wonderful example of “one-on-one theatre,” ruminates on athleticism within a disabled body and gives the audience member the chance to reconsider their assumptions.

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‘One Audience Member, Theatre Space, Me and a Bench are All That is Needed’

Despite the appeal of a large audience all sharing an experience together, Jamila chose the “one-on-one format” to get their message across. 

“One audience member, theatre space, me and a bench are all that is needed,” Jamila, a queer, disabled artist with Endometriosis told Star Observer. 

The audience member chooses one object from three – a ball, a shoe, or a frisbee – and then receives seven to eight minutes of storytelling attached to that object. This also gives the audience the opportunity to spontaneously engage with the character.

“This type of theatre is ideal for me. Being autobiographical, I only have to remember about 30 minutes of material. As my disability limits the time I can stand or walk, sitting on a bench to perform suits me perfectly.”

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‘Living the Dream’

Jamila, graduated from the Acting program at Adelaide College of the Arts in 2018 and describes themselves as a storyteller who enjoys performing the work they’ve written.

As an active child, Jamila admits that they “didn’t know that an actor was something I could be.” Now as a Carclew Artist in Residence they are “living the dream” occupying a studio in a big heritage building and focusing on acting, playwriting and writing articles, thanks to the Youth Art Organisation. 

Jamila says that they now have the opportunity to explore their “strong sense of justice” and political activism as Co-Chair of the Actor’s Union Equity and Diversity Committee, working to improve the inclusion of actors who identify as diverse.

Jamila’s screen credits include I’ll Accept, which won the Best Music Video at the South Australian Screen Awards in 2018. Their next goal is to play an ambulatory wheelchair user in either a TV Show or a short film.

Following the Melbourne season, Benched heads to NSW at the Darlinghurst Theatre Company later in 2022.

Footscray Community Arts Entrance Gallery – 45 Moreland St, Footscray on 10–12 February at 1.30pm (15-minute sessions)

Star Observer’s Midsumma fg (Festival Guide)

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