A different kind of festival

Today’s blog is by Lennie Varvarides, the director of DYSPLA, a festival which celebrates artists with dyslexia.

In 2007 I had this crazy idea that London needed yet another new writing festival. I had recently graduated from Central School of Speech and Drama where I finished with an MA in writing for performance and was full of this stuff called, optimism.  An opportunity came up for a cheap hire at Barons Court Theater and with the help of my friend Rachel Barnett, we set up DYSTHELEXI, the first festival to exclusively produced the work of dyslexic storymakers.  It has been optimism, luckily, that has got me through the last five years.

This year marks five years of pushing and persuading. Five years of recruiting poets and performers and playwrights, five years of displaying what dyslexic creativity is and looks like. In a way, each festival is a research project and represents a live account of where the creative dyslexic community is and who our dyslexic contemporaries are.

The festival has proven to be a powerful network of shared energy; all involved are eager to raise awareness and celebrate art.  This art, this literature  this theater, this poetry, this music all made by dyslexic artists, dyslexic writers, dyslexic theater makers, dyslexic poets and dyslexic musicians.

There is a vibrant dyslexic community in London and every year this community attracts new and old dyslexics, who are eager to either come out of the closet, or are able to enjoy bathing in this new attitude of acceptance, bought about through all of our efforts to raise awareness.

This shift in attitudes means that people are not as embarrassed to speak about their dyslexia as they were 10 years ago.  I would like to believe that in the last five years the DYSPLA FESTIVAL has contributed to not only raising the awareness of dyslexia, but that the festival has also contributed to the positive aspects of this learning difference.

On a social level I want the festival to inspire those with dyslexia to consider their new-found acceptance as a new lease on life. A new approach to learning and living and sharing.  I believe art can change people, it can inspire and it can rebuild confidence in an individual and a community.

Every year we come up with  new ways to involve more people, this year we have two catagories that are open to everyone who is dyslexic:

1. THE WHISPERING THEATER
http://www.dysthelexi.com/current-festival/lineup/whispering-theatre/

2. LEFTOVER LETTERS OF A DYSLEXIC
http://www.dysthelexi.com/current-festival/lineup/leftover-letters-of-a-dyslexic/

We welcome letters all through the festival and encourage any dyslexic playwrights to send in their scripts now, for 2013.

The real landmark for DYSPLA FESTIVAL this year, is attracting the attention and time of Sally Gardner, who will be our main guest speaker on the 6th Nov, as a part of the DYSPLA FESTIVAL GALA NIGHT & FUNDRAISER. For more information on our Guest Speakers, please follow this link:
http://www.dysthelexi.com/current-festival/lineup/gala-night/

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2 responses to “A different kind of festival

  1. Pingback: DYSPLA FESTIVAL – GALA NIGHT, GUEST SPEAKERS, PERFORMANCE, & WINE RECEPTION – 6th NOV 2012, 6:45PM : DYSPLA

  2. Pingback: A different kind of festival : DYSPLA

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