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Bond star Judi Dench and Miranda actress Sally Phillips back Cambridge disability charity, Bedazzle


By Alex Spencer


Dame Judi Dench and Miranda star Sally Phillips are backing a fundraising bid by a Cambridge theatre company that enables disabled and autistic people to find a voice.

Bedazzle Inclusive Theatre, an initiative by local charity Bedazzle, needs more money in order to take a show to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this August.

Dame Judi Dench is supporting Bedazzle
Dame Judi Dench is supporting Bedazzle

The charity, which brings together performers aged 16 plus with and without learning disabilities, has secured the two actors as patrons.

Dame Judi said: “I wholeheartedly support this project, providing a platform which inspires creativity, instils confidence and improves communications skills.”

She added: “ I feel it’s important to begin this journey of creativity by supporting the message that the performing arts industry is something that all people, particularly those with disabilities, are given the opportunity to experience at some level.”

The aim is to take a new show I’m non-typical typical, a unique piece of drama and spectacle based on the experiences of the performers, to Edinburgh from August 1 to 11 , but funding is required to get there.

Says Bedazzle founder Diane Janssen. “With this show we’re finding a new way to fore-front autistic and disabled actors, helping them find a voice in culture. We want to have the opportunity to showcase that in Edinburgh.”

Members of Bedazzle
Members of Bedazzle

Potential supporters were treated to a preview Meadows Community Centre in Cambridge on Saturday, May 11.

Sally Philips, whose son has Down’s Syndrome, said: “I know the struggles that we, as a family living with learning disability, have faced and his own personal struggles to fit into a society that is not always willing to accept the face of disability within the wider media.

“This project opens up an opportunity for people of all ages, disabilities and conditions to come together to produce meaningful pieces of performance within their own communities and beyond.”

Bedazzle's integrated dance 'Imagine' show, supplied by Cambridge PR, via the Bedazzle Theatre Company. (9726233)
Bedazzle's integrated dance 'Imagine' show, supplied by Cambridge PR, via the Bedazzle Theatre Company. (9726233)

Diane hopes that support for the show will allow them to take the initiative on to bigger things. “Our aim is to use Edinburgh as a springboard to create a BIT School, offering education and traineeships in the performing arts and associated industries incorporating a professional theatrical touring company with an ambition to take our show in to the community, schools and the West End.”

In addition to BiT, Bedazzle runs a Bespoke Education programme, delivering tailored educational packages to young people with disabilities and anxiety that prevents them being taught in a group setting. To find out more visit bedazzlearts.com

They are hoping to raise £25k towards their trip to the Edinburgh Festival. To make a donation, visit https://chuffed.org/project/bedazzle-inclusive-theatre/



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