A cast of Devon-based disabled actors will be joined by Coronation Street star Cherylee Houston in a short film that explores isolation in lockdown.
When The Wheels Come Off is a new drama that will be premiered online on Thursday 29 October.
It is produced by CEDA (community, equality, disability action) and performed by its drama group, a company of actors who use performing skills to tell their stories of life and disability.
Their work deals with the trials and frustrations, the victories and challenges of everyday life.
Who is Cherylee Houston?
Cherylee Houston is an English actress best known for playing Izzy Armstrong in Coronation Street. She has also made appearances in Doctors, The Bill, Holby City, Emmerdale and Little Britian.
At aged 23, Cherylee was diagnosed with a rare condition called Ehlers-Danlos and uses a wheelchair.
When The Wheels Come Off
The group worked together online to build a story around thoughts, feelings and ideas, which they had started to discuss in workshops before lockdown.
The drama starts before lockdown, with a news report about Rona, a wheelchair user who was isolated in her flat for over six weeks because the lift was broken.
As part of the drama, Rona looks out of the window and the audience hears her thoughts, which are voiced by Cherylee Houston.
CEDA’s Craig Bowden said:
“When we were looking for someone to voice Rona’s thoughts, we felt it was vital that that person was a disabled actor. We invited Cherylee to be part of the project, and we were delighted when she accepted. It’s been a great experience for the team to work with her as an actor, and as an advocate for disability access.”
Actress Cherylee Houston said:
“Lockdown has made us all on a level, a place where we can all get into the same virtual room; this for disabled people is very different in life away from COVID.”
“I absolutely loved meeting and working with the CEDA team, it was great to be part of a film that was led by the group members’ ideas and experiences – CEDA are doing great work!”
“I was keen to be part of the project for this very reason – often our stories are untold, and our everyday experiences ignored. It’s great when disabled people are allowed the space to advocate for themselves and tell our stories in our own words.”
“That’s how life will change for us – change how we are included in society, to be allowed our proper place alongside everyone else.”
Writer and Director Conor Magee said:
“Many disabled people experience isolation in their lives, and feel the frustration of not being able to do the things they need to or the things they enjoy, because the system lets them down.
“During this unusual time, we have all had a taste of what that’s like – but will we all remember after the pandemic has passed? That’s the question we ask through this drama.”
“It’s a tough question to confront the audience with, and it’s a very important one.”
The drama was filmed using mobile phones with remote direction via zoom. Although this process was challenging, it also opened up possibilities for the team. The drama was produced as part of CEDA’s ongoing partnership with Exeter Northcott Theatre.
When The Wheels Come Off will be premiered on Facebook and YouTube, followed by a live Q&A on Thursday 29 October at 7:30 pm as part of Unlocktoberfest.
By Emma Purcell
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