I have had left Erb’s Palsy since birth.   I recently graduated from East 15 Acting school, one of the top drama schools within the UK, and with additional help from the Tim Dyde Fund have started to pursue a professional career within the arts. The Tim Dyde Fund has given me the additional funding to help assist with the financial costs of entering the industry, such as getting headshots done, showreels, subscriptions to professional casting websites, and memberships of professional unions etc.

As part of my course I have undertaken a variety of exciting projects with external companies and directors, and have worked closely with the community to produce work that has a genuine impact. The course covers a variety of subjects, from circus and street performance, to political theatre, cabarets, site-specific, screen acting,  as well as facilitation of workshops and community projects. Throughout it all I have had to adapt to the additional challenges that come with being a disabled performer, whilst appreciating the unique insight and opportunity this can afford me.

For instance, I am keen to work with disabled activists to continue to make theatre accessible, to both the audience and the performers, and have taken the opportunity to study British Sign Language up to level 2 to better facilitate this. I have also had the opportunity to work alongside Peer Productions to run drama workshops for adolescents with special educational needs and disability and I am eager to do more work within this area. I hope to develop my own projects to benefit other people with disabilities in the future, and have some ideas in mind about how to reach the Erb’s Palsy community with similar artistic opportunities.

Since having graduated from East 15 in July, I have started to work with Theatre31, part of Icon Theatre, to deliver theatre to youth offenders within Cookham Wood Young Offenders Institution and I am excited about the opportunity to collaborate with established guest artists and produce impactful work as a result. I have also successfully auditioned to become part of the pool of actors for Tic Box Productions, and have done some further work with Peer Productions. I am excited to see how my career continues to progress and to start to implement my own projects soon.

Jay Woods