STEVE COOKE AATA
AN INTERVIEW WITH INSPIRATIONAL NEURODIVERGENT THEATRE MAKER AND PRODUCER ALI WILSON
This is the first in a series of interviews celebrating the wonderful creatives of MIA [Manchester Independents Artists].
I'm a theatre maker and producer based in Manchester. I make devised theatre, often with people who aren't often on stage (such as with my Mum). My work is subversive, ironic and uses humour to interrogate the mundane things about our lives. It usually begins with lots of ideas and scraps of text which get slowly formed into some kind of order. As a producer, I design and manage all sorts of artistic projects, often involving young people and community groups. I'm also a Trustee at Contact. Advocacy is a big part of my work as an artist.
My professional website is here: https://awilson945.wixsite.com/aliwilson
As a person I am - neurodivergent (ADHD), a tenant's rights activist, beginner Keyboard player. I love football, tapas and walking round Castlefield Canal.
Inspirations: artistically, I love theatre made by artists such as Ursula Martinez, Guillem Mont de Palol and Jorge Dutor, Bo Burnham, Ultima Vez, Ontoerend Goed. I also really admire the work of the uncultured, who have been building resources about improving working conditions for freelancers during this pandemic. There's also a growing crowd of neurodivergent artists and creative workers who are using their platform to raise awareness for the neurodivergent community who I really admire, such as Vijay Patel and Jess Thom. Manchester inspires me a lot - the history of this city is strong, and reminds me to keep my feet on the ground and be myself.
At the moment I am working on Every Brain - https://www.everybrain.co.uk/ - a project I had designed and led since the start of this year. This project began as a way to raise awareness of neurodiversity and make new artistic work with neurodivergent artists in Greater Manchester. It has grown immensely since then. On a personal level, this project has not just been a producing journey, but also a really personal one. It's the first time I have worked with a team where everyone is neurodivergent, and I have really learnt from this current team about the value of accepting myself and reframing ADHD as something to collaborate with, rather than try to hide. The wider potential of this project is to continue employing, commissioning and celebrating neurodivergent artists. Through that, more awareness and understanding will come. I want to see more financial resource going to the neurodivergent community, and that's why we only work with neurodivergent artists.
We've got this virtual launch on 12 August, so my aim for that is to get people working in theatres and cultural organisations from across the UK to come along to that. We've also designed a training programme for organisations, so I would like to roll that out across the UK and internationally, and keep improving it as much as we can. My other dream is to venture into galleries and work with neurodivergent visual artists to create a new collection of work, as well as make a stage show and reconnect with my inner-theatre maker. The big ambition is to be running Every Brain as an organisation, and to grow but keep our values close to our hearts.