We Ask These Questions of Everybody by HERA Online
For many people, staying at home for long stretches of time and being confined to a restricted space is nothing new. We Ask These Questions of Everybody speaks of the experiences of disabled people through snippets of real-life conversations, as well as interviews adapted to music. The production, written and directed by Toria Banks and composed by Amble Skuse, raises questions about the government’s out-of-touch approach. At the centre of the conversation is the detrimental impact that austerity in the UK is having on the overall health of disabled individuals.
We Ask These Questions of Everybody is an operatic production that combines a range of elements to tell its story. It’s an account of many voices coming together and forming a harmonic ensemble, revealing intimate and touching details of various people’s personal testimonies. Each voice maintains the power of the speaker’s individuality as they share their unique struggle, hope, or outlook. Excerpts from assessment interviews are combined with observations revealing perspectives that are profound and often overlooked. The topics covered include worries and anxieties, but also symptoms and practical limitations that have great import in day-to-day life. There are reflections on insensitive comments received, on the persistent fear regarding the future, and many other revelations giving a glimpse into the “small universes,” as one interviewee calls them, that each speaker finds themself living in.
Amble’s soundscapes create a dreamlike atmosphere and pull the viewer right in, and the singing adds further pathos to the experience. The onscreen graphics all relate to communication, from crumpled paper to messages being typed and thoughts being composed as emails. The whole is tinted in overlapping, soothing colours, while scribbles are sketched around the screen. The project draws out something poetic from seemingly ordinary conversations that, collectively, send a powerful message about the vital importance of acceptance and expression.
We Ask These Questions of Everybody is a unique and touching production that should be viewed widely.
We Ask These Questions of Everybody is available to live-stream on 29th January and to stream until 28th February 2021. For further information or to book visit HERA’s website here.
Read our interview with writer/director Toria Banks and composer Amble Skuse here.