Alwyn spoke to Francesca Martinez about her show for our Oxcast Extra Channel. You can hear the full interview here.
Francesca begins by saying that her show looks at all the crazy pressures on people to be normal. Francesca herself has cerebral palsy and used to be fascinated with the concept of normal. She wanted to be it, especially as a teenager.
But then she discovered that actually normal people don't exist.
This realisation changed her entire life and liberated her from being what she wasn’t, allowing her to accept and be proud of who she was instead. Everyone is different. We live in a society where we are bombarded with images of so called normality and feel the pressure of trying and obtain a certain kind of lifestyle.
Her show was in Edinburgh in 2011 and then in 2012 it went on tour. It was well received, gaining many 4* and 5 * reviews.
Francesca says that it has been great to see people open up to it. She has received letters saying things like "I used to be embarrassed of myself" and "I used to not go swimming in public but after seeing your show I thought sod it, I’ll go swimming, what’s the big deal?" Francesca goes on to say, "I’ve had the odd person say they’re normal to which my response is ‘you’re a freak’...because if you think you’re normal then you’re highly deluded."
Francesca says she's always struggled with the word disability because it implies that able-bodied people can do anything. But we all have things we can and can’t do. Even able-bodied people have their own disabilities, whether they’re visible or not. "If you’re a Tory politician then that’s one of the most severe disabilities you can have", Francesca says, "and there’s no known cure!"
This last remark leads Alwyn to ask about the politics of the show. "It’s a political show in parts" says Francesca, "all art is political." People who think they aren’t political are propping up the status quo but that’s still politics. We’re all political because we live on the planet and engage in life. Her show tries to question accepted ways of thinking and suggest new ways of approaching things. "I’m fascinated by the fact that my life was changed dramatically by a single shift of thought and I wanted to see if I can spark that same shift in an audience member", Francesca goes on. Ideas can change lives. Ultimately, she wants people to leave her show feeling happy about themselves and realising how wonderful life is and that they need not worry about stupid things like noses and bums.