A show celebrating the life and legacy of a disabled artist is set to inspire all during it’s run at the Wollongong Workshop Theatre on March 14 and 15.
Director, choreographer and performer Caroline Bowditch is the star of “Falling in Love with Frida”, and like her muse, is also a disabled artist.
“I hope [the audience] is left thinking about the assumptions they make about disabled artists, and [the show] sparks conversation about disability and sexuality,” she said. “The most important thing is I want people to go away and have their own love affair Frida, I really want people to go away and find out more about her.”
Bowditch, who was born with the genetic condition Osteogenesis Imperfecta (fragile bones), began her “love affair” with Mexican painter Frida Kahlo fours years ago in Nottingham.
She had been given free reign of a studio space as part of a two-week residency where she explored “bones and the stories that live in them”, eventually stumbling on Day of the Dead and works by Kahlo.
At that stage Bowditch never imagined an artist with a disability could reach the heights and success that Kahlo had and became fascinated by the similarities they shared.
“She was way ahead of her time, there’s lots about her that really entices me,” she said. “I became really interested in how does one just get remembered for their art rather than their [disability] … so I sort of wanted to reclaim her.”
The disability advocate spent the next 18 months researching the empowering women and traveled to London, Holland, Paris and Mexico where she retraced her steps “soaking up the colours, sounds and tastes”.
Her stage concept was finally brought to life in February 2014.
“We’ve worked in generating dance material from lots of her [paintings], the set is very much based on her house ... all of the costumes are based on the sorts of things she used to wear,” said Bowditch.
The all woman cast expose little-known facts about Kahlo as an artist and cultural icon, and previously won a Herald Angel Award at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
This tour marks the first time Bowditch has performed professionally in Australia after spending the last decade forging a successful career in the UK.
“Wollongong Workshop Theatre are proud to bring this production to Wollongong. Caroline performs the show with such passion, that it is hard not to fall in love with Frida as she does,” said Wollongong Workshop Theatre spokesperson Gabi Harding.
“Falling in Love with Frida”, Wollongong Workshop Theatre, March 14 and 15.