Meet the artist: Dennis Seidel

Europe Beyond Access introduces German artist Dennis Seidel, a learning-disabled actor and theatre-maker with Meine Damen und Herren. Dennis was one of the creative leaders of the first Europe Beyond Access laboratory hosted by German project partner, Kampnagel in Hamburg. This film is part of a new series of artist profiles produced by Europe Beyond Access that promote disabled artists to international audiences.

Visual description and enhanced transcript for visually impaired audiences

This film features to-camera interview footage with Dennis Seidel, a white learning-disabled man. In the interview, he is wearing a blonde, pigtail wig and pink ladies’ tunic. The interview footage is interspersed with archive material of Dennis’ previous productions, as well as footage of Dennis leading a workshop with other disabled and non-disabled artists.

The film opens with a fast-cutting montage of a number of productions which Dennis either starred in or devised. Each of the productions has performers in unusual costumes. The camera cuts to Dennis. He says:

I am an actor from Meine Damen und Herren, which is a theatre group from barner 16, where many artists are integrated. I have been writing plays for 5 years. My first success as a playwright was “Ordinary Girl”.
Then came “Der Tag, an dem Kennedy ermordet wurde und Mimi Kennedy Präsidentin wurde” (The day that Kennedy was murdered and Mimi Kennedy became president), and my last success was “Zehn Meter in den Wilden Westen”, (Ten Meters in the Wild West) that we presented to a cooperation. Actually, it was an invitation to collaborate that lasted 3 years. “Zehn Meter in den Wilden Westen” was the first play within this invitation, and two more projects have followed. In my plays, I focus on female roles, especially strong women roles.

As he speaks the camera shows some of his other productions, but focusses mostly on Zehn Meter in den Wilden Westen, which features both disabled and non-disabled performers in ‘Wild West’ outfits, including Dennis himself, dressed as a woman. All of the characters in this play end up dead on the floor.

Dennis continues:

Disabled people should lead more workshops, because I think disabled people’s work is often neglected. I have the feeling that these people are excluded from society and that they can’t show their work. I think non-disabled people should work with disabled people. And vice versa. Disabled people should work with non-disabled people. This way, they can watch each other’s work and they can see what is useful for each group and use it in each project.

As he speaks the camera cuts to him performing a song on a keyboard and singing, as he leads a workshop with other artists. The camera then cuts to archival footage of Dennis performing in ‘Scharzweiss von halfpast selberschuld’ (Black and white by half-past blame yourself). It shows Dennis and another actor dressed in bizarre black and white costumes on a black and white set. Dennis’ costume includes conical breasts and unusual headgear. The film then shows the end credits, the logos of the 7 partner organisations of Europe Beyond Access, the Creative Europe logo and the Europe Beyond Access animated logo consisting of a blue swirl.

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