A weekend Birdman could never miss

Posted on 02 May 2018
A weekend Birdman could never miss

Greg 'Birdman' Bird loves to take part in Back To Back Theatre's annual weekend performance workshops, aptly named CAMP (Come And Make Performance).

The return CAMP participant said he is always looking for opportunities to perform in community theatre projects but finds it difficult to participate with his disability because he needs support to help him act.

"I get incredible support from Back To Back. They get it. Everything is accessible and there's no issues getting around. I feel completely at home there," he said.

The 58-year-old NDIS participant has had a passion for theatre since he was a child.

"I love making people laugh and cry," he said. "I've been honing my skills since I was 14-years-old, and I've been on the stage for about 20 years. It's great to be able to take yourself away from day-to-day life and immerse yourself in playing a character in an electrifying theatrical atmosphere."

Since taking part in CAMP in 2017 and 2018, Greg has gone on to have roles in other Back To Back Theatre projects, and he is enjoying what he feels is a greater sense of community inclusion.

Outside of his Back To Back Theatre work, Greg has also performed with other theatre groups in Melbourne.

"I've performed with theatre company Not of This Earth, in a play called Looking for Dada, he said. "I've performed in a play called Crazy House about living in shared accommodation, and one of my highlights is a Moliere play I was in, called The Reluctant Doctor – the theatre director lady said I was the most reluctant doctor she had ever met," he added with a laugh.

Most recently, scriptwriter Janet Brown documented Greg's story for The Hope Song, an Anglesea Performing Arts play, where one of the characters performed his words verbatim. Greg said The Hope Song's season, at La Mama Theatre, received an incredible response.

"The play's been a sell-out but it's only because I've got all my friends going," Greg joked.

"But seriously, the best part about going to Back To Back Theatre's CAMP is all the individuals with a wide range of abilities participate equally. I get affirmations of my skills in theatre, and I love the social networking and the friendships that come with the weekend and how they evolve after."

Back To Back Theatre's Artistic Associate and 2018 CAMP curator, Tamara Searle, said since CAMP started back in 2014, it has been a sell out and through its workshop's it has been able to identify some great talent.

"We have around 70 workshop participants, including emerging artists and guest feature artists, and it's been overwhelming to see such incredible talent unfold before our eyes," she said.

"The entire CAMP weekend is spent exploring theatre, dance and design. Whether you have a disability or not, live locally, live throughout Victoria, live interstate or overseas, everyone is welcome to participate.

"CAMP runs annually over an entire weekend and its one program, amongst other open workshops, we do throughout the year but it's one really solid one we can open up more broadly to the public, and there's something for everyone," Tamara said.

Visit the Back to Back Theatre website (external)for information on CAMP or other Back to Back projects.

Back to Back Theatre is a registered National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provider. If you receive NDIS support, like Greg, it may be possible to direct funds towards attending CAMP, depending on your individual goals.