History. Myth. Remembering. What stories can we tell each other of our past?

Created and written by the company, A Spark and a Beating Heart is about us. Who we are, how we came here and why we do what we do. It’s a celebration and a love-letter, a party and an elegy. Mixing the many myths of the firebird with a collective reflection on lives lived. We are here to tell you our story.

Yes, a spark and a beating heart full of fire, just before the story starts or the lights come up, us small players become the main act.

Firebird Theatre are a unique group of disabled theatre-makers, spanning generations. They have been making theatre together for 25 years. Their experiences tell stories of shifting attitudes towards difference and disability; of understanding and ignorance.

The experience of having a disability has changed almost unrecognisably since 1985, when Firebird was born. Society’s attitude towards disability rights only really began in the 1970s with the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act. Four years before Firebird (or The Portway Players as the company were then), the government came up with recommendations for anti-discrimination legislation. It would be fourteen years before the Disability Discrimination Act was created in 1995, and arguably it is only recently that the public’s perception of and attitude towards disabled people has shifted with the 2012 Paralympic Games.

This show will celebrated Firebird’s quarter of a century of professional theatre-making. Firebird is a unique company, ranging from ages 22 to 70. The experience of the youngest members of the company is very different to those nearing retirement (for example, living in a long-stay residential hospital). The show used first-hand stories of Firebird artists (captured through work with local writer Claire Williamson), intertwined with the story of the firebird/phoenix. This work returned to the company’s devising roots, using the symbols and structure of the firebird story as a structure for collecting their stories.

A Spark and a Beating Heart premiered at theTrinity Centre, Bristol between 11th-13th May 2017.

Devised by Firebird Theatre
Produced by MAYK
In association with Bristol Old Vic.