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Imagined Touch: World Premiere features Deafblind Performers

Sep 08, 2016

Jodee Mundy is committed to making work that enriches people’s lives through inclusivity. Specifically, she is known for making performance projects by, with and for people who experience isolation as a result of disability. “The greater degree of social isolation a community experiences, the more divergent and culturally rich their views will be,” says Jodee.

One such community are those who identify as Deafblind, and it is their culture and lived experience that sits at the heart of her most recent performance project Imagined Touch. Performers Michelle Stevens and Heather Lawson are two of over 300,000 Australians living with the dual disability of Deafblindness. “There are very few projects with Deafblind people and we’re creating work to shed light on the lack of representation…rather than asking why we should make work with Deafblind performers, we’re just asking how we do it.”

Imagined Touch. Image credit: Jeff Busby

The result is a multi-sensory performance project exploring the world of Deafblind culture. Audience members are given headphones and goggles that impair their own hearing and vision and then greeted and introduced to the space by the Deafblind performers, who mostly communicate using touch.

According to Jodee, low expectations of those in the Deafblind community are a major roadblock when making work like this and Imagined Touch takes enormous leaps towards overcoming them. For example, some people are surprised to learn that Deafblind performer Michelle Stevens studies music at Melbourne Polytechnic and even plays piano during the performance.

Michelle Stevens in rehearsal. Image credit: Jeff Busby

“Inclusivity means sharing,” says Jodee. “We’re all told to do that as kids but then we grow up. When we prioritise inclusivity, nobody loses and everybody wins.”

Imagined Touch is supported by the Australia Council for the Arts, through the Projects for Individuals and Groups grants category. It will run from 7—11 September at Arts House in Melbourne.

For more information about Jodee, her artistic practice and unique process, please visit her website .