Liz Carr is a British actress, stand-up comedian and international disability rights activist who will be performing at Cripping the Stage on April 30, 2016. In this interview, Liz gives us insight on her successful career in performance and on-screen and how her activism and politics has had an impact on her practice over the years.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your artistic practice.
I’m usually described as a disabled actor, activist and comedian. At the moment in the UK, I’m most known for playing series regular Clarissa Mullery, forensic examiner in the BBC’s long running drama Silent Witness. But I’m also best known within the crip community for the fact that I co-presented the irreverent BBC Ouch! podcast alongside Mat Fraser for 7 years - known for our frank conversations about our lives as well as the iconic quiz Vegetable, Vegetable or Vegetable. It was this podcast that first gave me more of an international profile as I found myself in the ears of disabled and non-disabled people all over the world. I’ve worked as a stand-up comedian in both the mainstream, as well as the disability and the LGBT communities, but my focus these days is more on cabaret type shows, which I’m loving programming, mc-ing and/or performing in - hence why this is an incredible opportunity for me to perform in Toronto at Cripping the Stage!
How do your politics and activist work impact your practice?
I have been an active part of the disabled people’s movement for over 25 years and much of my work is focused on combining art and activism. This is culminating later this year in the piece, Assisted Suicide The Musical, which allows me to explore and explain my opposition to assisted suicide and euthanasia through comedy, music and spectacle of musical theatre! The show will premiere at the Royal festival Hall in London, UK in September as part of the Unlimited Festival. In fact I'd say that all of my work is underpinned by my politics and activism in some way e.g. even though I’m in a mainstream BBC drama, I use that platform to bring attention to disability-related issues both in the job and also to use the platform inherent in having a higher public profile.
ANY disabled artists WHO have had a lasting impact on your art practice?
I’d say there’s just so many - those who went before me and who I saw years ago, creating art, comedy and music about our experiences as disabled people from a political disability arts perspective - to those up-and-coming performers with new ideas, energies and perspectives. It’s all had a part to play in who I am now and in the ability to develop my career and in terms of my own ambition and expectation.
My community, the disability rights community, have been fundamental in who I am and who I’m becoming.