This is not a safe space is a performance by a working-class queer disabled poet, performer, theatre maker and a Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellow, Jackie Hagan. This and a few of her works focus on commemorating the experiences of the people let out of the mainstream.
Her solo show Some People Have Too Many Legs won the 2015 Saboteur Award for Best Spoken Word Show and toured nationally. Her debut play Cosmic Scallies was commissioned by Graeae and ran at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in summer 2017. On the basis of several first hand interviews with disabled people living on disability benefits, Jackie uses audio clips of the interviews as she enacts bits from the recordings being played. Going for this show, I thought it was going to be a talk about the change of policies regarding the disability benefits but instead I was surprised to see how this show was as much about working-class identity and experience as it was the effects of the recent changes that occurred to the benefits system. During the performance Jackie says, “I am not going to make this fluffy for you” which made me realize that because the reality is harsh and painfully heartbreaking, Jackie is trying to make us realize that the world is not a safe space and there is no way to sugar coat this and hence the title.
Governmental actions towards people living in poverty are absolutely underwritten by hard-rooted animosity that see them as lazy, underserving, wasteful or simply evil and to this this pink haired artist, with her pissed with the world attitude, covered in glitter and fairy lights, comes to express her thoughts and share a lot of anecdotes about her experience of how these policies and this mind set have affected her as well as those around her. The best thing about the show for me was that all the interviews Jackie took on first person basis were far from sob stories instead it represents fully rounded lives full of spiky humor. The set –design of this how was much to my liking and very quirky. There were 3 panels of colorful memories.
What draws interest of the audiences the most is how the artist in her own colorful, witty, feisty and authentic way is able to deliver her thoughts about authoritative neglect without really stating the fact. There were some parts of the show that were distracting and incomprehensible because of the very strong accents in the fuzzy recordings but it was easy to get by because of the use of a mix of DIY puppetry, poetry and audience interaction. This show was a blend of poetry and standup comedy that paints a, funny yet tender portrait of life with a disability in the UK.
It rallies against the stigma surrounding benefits culture celebrates the weird, the wonky, the unruly and the resilient. A major let down for me was the use of audio recordings being so minimal and the enactment of the situations in the audio recordings being unclear and very limited. An additive to this show was her wit and interaction with the audience. To make the time more interactive and fun she prolonged her joke and made her version of a PIP form which she reads a few questions from to the audience. What I felt was icing on the cake was how Lancaster Arts as an organization was so involved with the show that they gave out print outs of the same PIP form at the end of the show. The Authenticity and uniqueness in which the artist presents her views and experiences is one of the reasons I would recommend this show to all. Another thing I really liked was how real and personal it was for so many people and how Jackie could present such a serious ongoing topic with such a tragicomic performance.