IdeasTap member Georgina Morrell is an up-and-coming actress who has appeared at the New Diorama, LOST Theatre and The White Bear. She also happens to be partially sighted. Here, she writes about her experience...
I was diagnosed with Juvenile Chronic Arthritis and Glaucoma Uveitis at the age of three.
The Glaucoma was a result of the arthritis and the arthritis just good old-fashioned bad luck. At 14, my left eye became too hard to maintain and focus was put upon the survival of the right. The left slowly deteriorated within a year and no sight remains.
I graduated from Drama Studio London in 2011 and it was there that I was able to refine my craft as an actor – but more importantly, build the confidence to embrace my physical limitations and channel them into my work and my passion.
It was a supportive environment, but also one where I was challenged every day and had to get to grips with why I wanted to follow this challenging career path. I hope my experience can offer solace or inspiration for others.
My eye disease has left much deterioration to my sight but I am glad to say that it has not placed too many limitations on my life and chosen career. I try not to forget how lucky I am, especially with the never-ending support from my family.
As we all know, life is unpredictable – and my eye disease is no exception. My day-to-day life is that of maintenance and upkeep, as I ensure the safety of the sight I have left. Four years ago the very dark side of the disease showed itself and I lost my sight for several months. It is hard to describe quite how awful this experience was. It was my personal hell. But I think this has made me become fearless in my acting – if anything, I am now looking for more challenging work. I can never be sure it won’t happen again, so I want to take the risks and thrills while I can.
This takes me back to the first week of a play I did earlier this year, Exposure at LOST Theatre, written by the wonderful Patrick Wilde and directed by the very talented Oliver Jack.
It all seemed too good to be true – but then my eyes let me down once again. I turned up to rehearsals and quietly explained that one of my eyes was sore and apologised for its appearance. But in all the right ways, the cast and crew didn’t care. They didn’t define me by my busted eyes, all they cared about was that I had come to the rehearsals and delivered the same professionalism and energy I would have done with two fully functioning eyes. Their understanding meant I didn’t feel alone. I was not a disability to them and received no pity.
Of course it has affected my career and at times can be very detrimental. So why keep doing it? Limitation is a state of mind. I firmly believe that you should focus on the gift your physical loss or trauma has given you. Disabled actors gain an intuition that helps us not only to see through the bullshit, but also gives us source material to draw on with almost unlimited potential.
The position I have now achieved in my career is one of freedom and control, and more importantly I feel the challenge of a role is never too great, when compared to those we face in life.
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