Izzy Loake (25) goes to college, where she’s enrolled on a catering course. More recently she’s been enjoying an actor training course which has been developed to train young learning disabled actors.
Can you describe how your disability affects you, please?
My disability affects me because sometimes I find it hard to understand and learn new things. Sometimes it’s a day-to-day struggle.
When I was at college the teacher asked me to do something – I can’t remember exactly what, but research for something. I got stuck and I couldn’t understand how to do it, so I got really panicky about it. Then the teacher came and said: ‘Are you alright?’ I went, ‘Yeah, I just find this really hard to understand. I’m getting a bit panicky.’ She said, ‘Right, I’ll sit with you and help you through it.’ That was very helpful.
I get a bit worked up. Then I try to calm myself down, but I get all panicky. I say (to myself): ‘Oh, gosh. There’s no need to get yourself panicky or worked up over it. You don’t need to do that. You just have to be calm.’
Are there ever times when you can completely forget that you’re disabled?
Oh goodness me; sometimes on a training course. When I get there, my learning disability just goes out of the window. I focus on what I’m doing. I know I’ve got a learning disability but for that time I forget that I’ve got one.
Do you think it’s easier to live with a learning disability today than it was in the past?
I’ve got to think about that one. I think people with learning disabilities find it hard but if they have the right supportive people around them to help them understand and do things step-by-step – so they don’t get panicky or get worried or anything. There’s more support nowadays, yes.
If you were to speak with an abled bodied person about your life, what do you think might surprise them about you?
I’d say, I’ve done training courses, I’m doing an acting training course; these are things they wouldn’t know. They’ll probably say: ‘What’s an acting training course?’ It’s where you can go to be a professional actor. You can learn professional skills, go on stage, learn how to produce shows and put your ideas out there and improvise stuff.
If you could choose, what would you be, an actor or a chef?
I’d probably say acting. I want to do stage management as well, because it’s my dream for the future to have my own drama group because then I can help people who have learning difficulties and I can help them grow more confident.
What advice would you give to able-bodied people, such as teachers or coaches or carers involved with young disabled people?
I think for people like teachers, the carers and all the staff, I think it will be easier for them to understand if they went to see a show with disabled people in and then get a sense of the disability they have. Then after the show they can talk to those people and talk to them about their disabilities and get a better understanding.
What does the Derby Theatre training programme give to young disabled people?
I make new friends, learn skills about being on stage, giving input on what to do, for example: ‘Oh, you know, you should try this’ or ‘Try this movement or try that or adapt it’.
Hubbub Theatre Company is an integrated physical theatre company which works with actors with moderate learning disabilities.