Pillow Fight: Theatre made by, and for, anyone who fights to leave the pillow

By Hussain Alismail. Jamila’s face crinkles with joy, feathers from pillows falling around them.

Pillow Fight is SA’s newest fully sick theatre company; creating and delivering theatre in accessible, considerate, and well rested ways. The stories we tell will be candid, joyful, and humming with the tenacity it takes to access the world.

I’ve been producing, creating, writing, and performing theatre and it felt right to start presenting work under a banner that encompasses the ethos of how I work. In February this year I presented my show Benched at Midsumma Festival at Footscray Community Arts Centre as the debut show from Pillow Fight, and we enjoyed a sold out season. It’s fitting that our first show was made and rehearsed from a bed. Due to my disability I fight to leave my pillow to make theatre.

Pillow Fight is a place where the access needs of creatives, crew, and audiences, are not only met, but honoured and melded into the work.

If you missed Benched, I will be back on the bench at Darlinghurst Theatre Company in May 2022, again with various accessible live and digital viewing options for the show. Tickets on sale now and available here https://www.darlinghursttheatre.com/benched

The next work from Pillow Fight will be Pillow Talk, an intimate depiction of secrets shared with bedfellows that will be presented at First Draft Gallery in Sydney in an online exhibition curated by Riana Head-Toussant.

If that wasn’t enough, Pillow Fight are also developing my award-winning play How to Eat Rabbit, a searing one act play about the proximity of disability to the climate catastrophe, and we are pursuing partners and platforms for presentation of the show in 2023.

SA’s arts scene is going to be the richer and more accessible now that we have Pillow Fight. We prioritise working with artists who are also disabled, chronically ill, or neurodivergent, as well as queer, trans, gender diverse, First Nations, or POC.

Pillow Fight are already collaborating on the creation of new performance works with Ruby Allegra, a visual artist and disability activist who is also responsible for our arresting and playful logo. “We need a place to be soft and hard, to safely be our full selves, and tell our stories, our way.” Allegra said.

Pillow Fight in a sentence? A safe place to rest your head

By Ruby Allegra. The Pillow Fight logo, two pillows colliding, held by scarred, disabled hands. Pillow Fight is written across the pillows in white. The pillows and hands are a clay pink and soft apricot colour.

A courtside look into athleticism is scoring goals all over the country

Benched: Created and Performed by Jamila Main. Jamila sits on a bench in athletic gear, holding a soccer ball, leaning forwards with a focused gaze.

My one-on-one performance work Benched is an intimate look at athleticism and changing mobility, and has just finished a sold out season at Footscray Community Arts Centre, commissioned in Midsumma Festival’s And/Or program.

Kicking off 2022 as a featured rising star in The Advertiser, I presented Benched as the debut production from my new company Pillow Fight. The show had 3 sell out seasons in Tarndanya/Adelaide and the Riverland in 2021, and is made up of candid moments drawn from my athletic childhood and my body’s decline due to severe Endometriosis and Osteoarthritis.

Originally commissioned by FELTspace Gallery as a one-off live performance work, Benched was made from my bathtub and bed as I endured a pain flare that lasted months. I needed to make a show in a way that was accessible to me. That meant writing the show in the bath and telling short, autobiographical stories.

In May, I will be bringing a mainstage version of Benched to Darlinghurst Theatre Company and the show isn’t just accessible to me. You can join me on the bench or in the audience in person, but if you’re on the more Covid-safe side, you can book a Zoom ticket to be zoomed onto the bench from your own home. We will also be holding a livestreamed performance. There are also tickets to a digital pre-recorded performance of the show and Auslan interpreted performances.

Benched is at Darlinghurst Theatre Company May 25-29.

Tickets onsale now and available here: https://www.darlinghursttheatre.com/benched

Casting Call: Disabled Actors to the Stage

Can you imagine seeing a young disabled actor on a main stage? 

How joyfully disruptive that would be?

How powerful and precious that would resonate with disabled audiences, who never see our bodies onstage or screen, particularly outside of medical settings?

How meaningful that would be to our cultural ecology? The changes that could be set in motion? The views, hearts, and minds that could be nudged into a more welcoming, understanding direction?

How surprising it would be to see a young person be unwell or disabled? A whole section of society that we actively conceal, present and real.

What if we saw a disabled Juliet?

An actually disabled actor playing Richard III, and the magnitude of power in witnessing Kate Mulvany do the role at Bell Shakespeare?

My heart is crying out to see this. To be this.

To see a disabled bride onstage or screen. Rolling down the aisle in their chair, beautiful and proud.

A disabled doctor treating their patient.

A teenager organising their meds while smoking a joint with their friends.

A disabled politician.A disabled gender diverse person.

Can you imagine? Dare you imagine?

Do you realise the power you possess? What magnificence you could materialise onstage?

What are you waiting for?

Jamila Main