Monday, 16 July 2018

The Sky Remains

It’s been a long while since I’ve written a blog post. I have written visa applications, I have written responses to the agents of people who used my own allegations of sexual assault to hurt me, I have written to my grandmother, I have written to my friends, I have written legal proceedings for divorce and for marriage. I have written applications for jobs or scripts or responses to invitations to auditions for token characters.

I still haven’t written enough.

Tonight, David Bellwood, a colleague I greatly admire, wrote something that expresses everything I’ve thought on any evening out under the sky since I was about two years old: 

I sometimes wish for this world to end, for us to at least realise we need to stop hurting each other, stop bringing new people into this impossible labyrinth, to find out what actually happens when we have to ask people and other animals to go to unbearable planets because there’s not a cohesive possibility we can reverse the harm.

But the sky remains beautiful.

I’m drinking a Natty Boh right now. Where I went to college…where I got a scholarship at age 12, and another at age 15, so that was where I had to go. It’s in the middle of nowhere. You are between two rivers. It is beautiful. The stars are immensely bright. At night, sometimes, the lights of “secret” Navy Air test flights send the strangest lights in your windows because they make no sound and none of the angles are right.

You wish on the small things. You look for a spray-painted $.70 beer can to celebrate the spring with everyone else, while cops chase you. The river and the sky are beautiful on Halloween, and you kiss someone in the middle of a hurricane. You cycle to school for months. You try to find someone at the campus health centre who doesn’t get hired by the state to excuse child abusers. Like they did to your father. You fail. You get pneumonia.


The stars don’t go away. 

In London, I look up and I see the slight shifts in constellations that remind me I’m where I want to be. 

I imagine my skeleton. 

Hard and ambitious for where we belong.

I imagine the sand along the Thames as disintegrated bone. Worn away by the currents. 

In space, you get pulled apart by a vacuum. In a black hole, you get contorted at drastically different rates for every centimetre of your body. Deep enough underwater, your ribs contract in on themselves.

On land, nearly everything is malleable.

Sorry. I only had one last sip of my beer, so I went to get another one. 
It’s like, you see, I got this hamster. He was very, very small and had no hair. He was sick. So, I had him for two days and his heart gave out.

This house is used to that, more than me. Everyone who used to live here has died of cancer. That’s the truth.

I wanted to give him some good days. He ran around a lot. I think he liked it. I don’t know.

I got a new hamster later. He escaped a lot.

We did nights in the basement with flashlights and buckets and food. He could run 100 miles in one night. That’s a beautiful race.

You never have to win.

I had one more hamster, one I got at the beginning, who finally cornered him and ate his face until he died.

And the thing is, that’s what hamsters do.

I named the last hamster Sagan.  The one who is in a Lemon Jell-o box in the backyard, with no face.

He liked exploring. He would run over everything and sniff everything and develop rearrangement strategies for his toys the likes of which I’ve never tried in my own house, back home.

You write down everything while holding on. Address, but not your first kiss. Height and hair colour and two-day intercontinental trips to a memorial service when his lungs filled up, but not who else died that year. Text messages and every place you’ve slept, but now when or how you two first fucked.

It’s not invisible. When you turn around, all the shards are gleaming. Maybe they’re waiting for you, or something else.

Sticking out of the earth. Out of the wires. Off the satellites. Coming from our skin.

I used to take a towel outside. I couldn’t sleep well, often. Bad nightmares, all the time, insomnia.

So, sometimes, I’d lay down in the grass.

When the sky is clear, you see shooting stars. At least one an hour.

We had a tire swing in the back. I don’t imagine the landlord put it there. 

One time, three of us swung on it after we got matching ear piercings.

Once, I had a party and the awful downstairs neighbour got drunk on our watermelon ice luge and never bothered us again.

 Once, I promised the stars that if I could get to London, I would never go back.

Once, I held hands on a hill in Greenwich.

Once, I went to Greenwich and then a film screening and took my top off on the tube because it was unbearably hot and I never felt more free.

Once, the next morning, I tried as hard as I could to kill myself.

A couple weeks later, I sat on the steps to my own garden and we held hands and nothing was easy.

And there are good promises, and everything is still jagged-sharp for eons.

This, this is like solitary. 

I’ve got fajitas and beer, so it’s actually not at all like that, really.

It’s just alone and separate from all the things you did your entire life.

I bought popsicles.

My granddad always like popsicles. He had two desserts every night and he died rail-thin of pneumonia. 

They’re cold and smooth. And all these people are so rigid and angry or cold and truly impossible. And you just get back home when you don’t recognise anything - the stars or the grass or the timestamps on your letters

And once, I spent the better part of a night in a makeshift treehouse in the woods behind my college and I sung “Moondance” to everyone who was too drunk to stand up.

None of that has anything to do with what happens when the teeth sink in.


But the sky remains beautiful despite our behaviour beneath it.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Devoted and Disgruntled Invitation - Neurodivergence

Hello! My name is Griffyn Gilligan. I am an actor, theatre artist, and advocate with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

I want to invite you to Devoted and Disgruntled. 

Devoted and Disgruntled is a gathering where people meet to talk about theatre and performing arts. It is a meeting for people who work in theatre, people who go to the theatre, people who study/write about theatre, and/or people who are interested in theatre, but don’t have much experience with it.

Even if you or your loved one(s) have little experience with theatre, but you want to make it more exciting and accessible, this event is for you.

Theatre can be a beautiful way to hear a story or experience something new and exciting. For neurodivergent people and people with mental health concerns, it can also be confusing and surprising.

For those of us who attend theatre shows, work in theatre, or know someone who might enjoy theatre, we all want to work together to make shows and venues more inclusive, supportive, and far-reaching.

The topic question for the event is: “What Are We Going to Do About Theatre and the Performing Arts?”

This year, Devoted and Disgruntled wants to make the event as accessible and welcoming as possible. We especially want to open it up to people who don’t often get a chance to express their experience with theatre or their opinions about it. Improbable is the theatre company who hosts the event. They have extra funds this year to make this event as accessible as possible to D/deaf, disabled, and neurodivergent participants.

This is an incredible time of change and dialogue, both in the arts and in the world. If you want to have your say, listen to new voices, and/or just learn new things about the arts,  Devoted and Disgruntled is an amazing place to do that. 

If you aren’t familiar with this gathering, here is how it works:

  1. It takes place over the course of three days. This year, it is happening from 20-22 January.

    It will be located in a large, open office space in the centre of London at:
    ND2, 1 Triton Square, London, NW1 3DX.

    Here is a PDF map of the space:

    It will take place each day for about 8 hours on the first two days, and 4 and a half hours on the third day. You can come and go as you please.

  1. This gathering uses something called Open Space practice. This simply means that you may engage or choose to not engage in any way(s) and at any time(s) you want. Anything that can be done to support the way you want to engage in a conversation will be done. That’s whether that is verbally, written, physically, etc.

  1. Here is how Open Space works practically:

Anyone may bring up a topic of conversation. There are four or five discussion slots per day. You may request a time and an area of the room to have your discussion, but you may not get your first choice. You may bring up as many or as few discussion topics as you want. There is no pressure to bring up a discussion topic at all.

Once a session (time slot) begins, you may attend any conversation(s) you want to attend. There will be about a dozen or so happening at the same time, spread between different areas. You can stay in one place or move between different groups. You may also leave or re-enter the building at any time you wish, for any reason.

At the beginning and end of the day, everyone is invited to sit in a circle. At the beginning of the day, the circle is a place to bring up discussion topics. At the end of the day, the circle is a place to share any final thoughts you might have about what the day was like for you. There is no pressure to share anything at either time.

  1. There are two breakout rooms: One quite, dimly lit space and one space where you are encouraged to make loud noises, tics, or stim as you please.
  1. There are clearly marked guides, or ushers, who are happy to help you at any time. They can direct you to toilets, breakout spaces, a specific discussion you wish to attend, or to and from the building where the gathering is happening
  1. Any sounds, tics, stims, movements, etc. are welcome in any space at any time.
  1. Here is the main webpage for the event:

    This page has more information about access support, ticket schemes, travel and nearby housing, and more.

    If you scroll to the bottom, that is where you can purchase tickets in advance.
  1. Here is the webpage for access information:
  1. If you have any questions or requests in advance, I would be happy to hear them and do the best I can to support you, along with the rest of the team at Improbable.

    You may e-mail me at:
  1. You may purchase a ticket when you arrive, or you can purchase online in advance. A full price ticket for the weekend is £20. A Concession price ticket is £10, and is intended for students, those with disabilities, those past the age of retirement, people with financial difficulties, etc. You will not be asked to show any kind of proof if you book a concession ticket.

    There are also free tickets for D/deaf, disabled, and neurodivergent participants being offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. Check the access site above for more information on those.

Thank you for reading this invitation. I hope to meet you there in a few weeks!

Very best wishes,

Griffyn Gilligan