Today we’re pleased to bring you a post from actress Kiruna Stamell, who along with her husband Gareth Berliner runs a production company, A Little Commitment. Kiruna writes about her experiences, and a children’s show that celebrates and considers difference…

I have dwarfism and my husband also has a disability but you would only notice this if you took his X marks the spot! Arrrrrrshirt off. We both work in the arts. I am an actress and he is a stand-up comic, so even our careers are a little unconventional. However, aside from superficial judgments people might have about our visible difference in height, we’re pretty ordinary. But society continues to focus on what makes us different, rather than all the different things we probably have in common with the rest of the world.

This inspired us to create and run workshops through our production company, A Little Commitment. These workshops are about exploring difference and normalising difference for children and young people in a school and community environment. We also provide family based workshops and workshop for businesses, where they need to consider diversity awareness training. We tackle society’s terrible habit of ‘othering’ people. That is, how we constantly reinforce the idea that people are ‘other’ or ‘weird’ or ‘deviant’. This stops us seeing what unifies us, whilst still being able to accept people’s differences which are unique. The truth is ‘everyone is different’ and that makes us as much the same, as the foods, love of colours, tastes and opinions we might have in common.

So part of our message as a couple and a company is that ‘everyone is different’ but we all have value. Our work as a theatre and comedy company reflects this and so do our workshops.
Polly Gone

It was wonderful for us to present one of our workshops about difference, alongside our production of ‘Pirate and Parrot’ at the Pulse Festival in Ipswich. Parents participating with their children found new ways to open up communication within their family, and each participant discovered ‘how they felt about the times they felt or were different’. Having these led by a couple with their own notable physical differences, such as height, meant the participants have successful examples of difference right in front of them. 

We’d like parents who are worried about their child’s school and/or peer group being open to their own family or individual differences to contact us via our website or email info@alittlecommitment.com. We are able to go into those schools/communities and play/teach inclusive games with the students and teachers. We have family friendly theatre, that entertains and might inspire healthy questions from the children for their parents afterwards. 

Our productions and workshops encourage adaptability (in the case of accommodating physical or sensory disability) or explore ideological difference and its acceptance (in the case of social differences, where this might be the concern). Ensuring all pupils are made welcome by their peers. It’s great prevention against a bullying culture or can tackle a bullying culture if one exists. Remember sometimes being made to feel different, is simply about being left out of the games and not being included in the fun.

So if this is something you think your school, community or group might benefit from please get in touch.

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