HIDDEN by Nicola Werenowska

a love story about invisible disability

Chris is a city lawyer; Jess is a Ph.D student. Two ordinary people in a relationship who want to get on with their lives. The birth of their son and the economic crash create a catalyst of events that leads them to discover who they really are. Can their relationship survive the challenges of accepting their newfound reality?

#hiddenplay @ecclesiatheatre @nicolawerenowska

2017 TOUR DATES

Wed 5 & Thurs 6 April | Burton Taylor Studio, Oxford Playhouse | 7.30PM | BOOK NOW

Wed 12 April | Norwich Arts Centre | 8PM | BOOK NOW

Fri 21 & Sat 22 April | The Marlowe Studio, Canterbury | 8PM | BOOK NOW

Fri 28 & Sat 29 April (Sat Matinee) | Mercury Theatre, Colchester | 8PM (3PM Sat Matinee) | BOOK NOW

 

Lewis Goody as ‘Chris’ & Milli Proust as ‘Jess’Hidden-Flyer-Front

Written by Nicola Werenowska

Directed by Scott Hurran

Design by Loren Elstein

Lighting Design by Zoe Spurr

Sound Design by Max Pappenheim

Stage Management by Kerri Charles

Produced by Maeve O’Neill & Ecclesia

Funded by Arts Council England, With support from English Touring Theatre and Mercury Theatre

 

 

 

INTERVIEW WITH HIDDEN PLAYWRIGHT NICOLA WERENOWSKA

1) Why is it an important time to be staging this play?

Hidden is a play for our times: there has to my knowledge not yet been a full length play which engages
with dyspraxia and at a time when support for people with invisible disabilities is increasingly restricted,
it’s important to raise awareness. With recent research highlighting how dyspraxic and ASD women fall
through diagnostic gaps, it’s particularly important to create a female dyspraxic character.

2) What has it been like working in the arts with an invisible disability?

My diagnosis of dyspraxia at the age of 29 following a severe depressive episode was life transforming
and gave me the confidence to explore my passion for playwriting. It was like, ‘I know who I am now’.
Although I had been a Royal Court runner-up for my play 20% when I was 16, without the knowledge of
what it was that wrong with me, I lacked the confidence to pursue my dream. So with my newfound
knowledge of my dyspraxia, I felt able to start playwriting & I joined my local playwrights’ group at
the Mercury Theatre in 2003 at the age of 31. I was lucky in that my first professional production for the
company followed the following year, Davy’s Day, and since then I haven’t looked back.

However, it’s not quite so straightforward. Although the knowledge of dyspraxia energized me into
playwriting and I have been successful in getting my work commissioned and produced, it took a long
time before I felt comfortable being ‘out’ about my disability in a professional theatre context. I think I
was coming to terms with my disability myself. Now I knew what it was, but did I want to tell the rest of
the world?? So while my dyspraxia might or might not come out in a conversation with a director or in
rehearsal room with the actors, I would never ask for the support I needed and instead rely on my usual
strategies to manage rehearsals e.g. make sure I had a list of the scenes with me at all times because I
never know which scene is coming next as I can’t do linear sequencing; never offer to make anyone a
drink because I might spill it; pretend I needed to make a phone call or a loo break when really I had
sensory overload and needed a few minutes to take stock. All this changed when I gained a place on
Graeae’s Write to Play Attachment scheme in 2013/14. For the first time, I was working in a
environment where I felt not only ok to be open about my disability but began to understand how my
dyspraxia was part of my playwriting process. Since then I feel much happier talking about my dyspraxia
and understand that it’s helpful for everyone if I disclose it at the start of any creative process.

3)What was your inspiration for writing Hidden?

HIDDEN was inspired by my friend, Mary Colley, the founder of the Adult Dyspraxia Foundation and
DANDA, who put Adult Dyspraxia on the map and changed the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of
people, including myself. Mary, who was a great supporter of my plays, died from breast cancer in 2010
and before she died, she asked me if I would write a play about dyspraxia. I promised her I would and by
some beautiful synchronicity of the universe the week of Mary’s funeral, I received a telephone call from
Graeae asking me if I would like to do a playlab exploring dyspraxia. And so HIDDEN began.

4) Is this the first time you have created a play from your own life experiences?

I always find this question challenging. I guess all my plays are filtered through my life experience in one
way or another but HIDDEN is certainly the most autobiographical. That said, the characters are fictional
and not related to myself or anyone I know closely. What does come directly from my experience is
Jess’s journey from the frustration of not knowing to the liberation of discovery. The emotional strand
mirrors my own although the circumstances are different, Jess has a child that is a key to her diagnosis
whereas I had my children post-diagnosis. I also set the play in London where I lived at the time of
diagnosis.

5) Are you excited about sharing HIDDEN with audiences across the country?

Yes hugely excited. There has not yet been a full length play about dyspraxia so I am honored to be
taking the play to different venues and raising the profile of dyspraxia. It’s the first time that I’ve written
about my disability in a playwriting context so it also feels like something of an exposure. That’s
probably a good thing.

6) What are you working on next?

I am passionate about Polish culture and history and often write plays engaging with Poland/Poles in the
UK. My play TU I TERAZ/HERE AND NOW (Hampstead, Mercury, Nuffield, 2012/13) explored issues
contemporary Polish migrants face and I am now developing a play SILENCE which explores
intergenerational effects of trauma through the lens of the UK’s postwar Polish community. I am looking
to produce this play next year with the Mercury Theatre and Unity Theatre. I additionally have work in
development with Graeae, Eastern Angles and the New Wolsey.