Verbatim online opera from all-disabled ensemble

Published: 13 January 2021
Reporter: Vera Liber

We Ask These Questions of Everybody

New verbatim opera We Ask These Questions of Everybody from composer Amble Skuse will be performed online by an all-disabled ensemble on Friday 29 January 2021 at Scotland's Sound Festival 2021.

HERA’s online opera, created remotely, will share the real-life experiences of disabled people in the UK, drawing on transcripts from an assessment for the Department of Work and Pensions to expose the challenges faced by disabled people dealing with state power.

Hannah needs help. She meets Lynn. Lynn works for a company that works for the Department of Work and Pensions. An assessment takes place. And then something else.

Writer and HERA co-founder Toria Banks said, “I’m so excited by Amble’s work. Her music is intimate and detailed, but hugely ambitious, and so is the show. It’s about really everyday things—preparing food, having a wash, going to the shop—and it’s about survival and joy. Because life as a disabled person is like that. I think after the year everyone’s had, non-disabled people will be in a good place to understand that too.

"The show was originally going to be live (and we still hope it will be at some point) but going online makes sense for us. Even before COVID, Amble and I have never met in person because of our disabilities. I understand getting frustrated with Zoom but real, human connection doesn’t have to be about sharing physical space. It’s about listening.”