Aladdin the Pantomime
is a new Fringe show brought to you by DAPAK (Dance Ability Performing Arts Kelete), an organisation that provides dance and music therapy for performing arts students with special needs. The show featured 25 cast members all with a disability in an inclusively wonderful comical performance from February 7 until February 9 at Phoenix Theatre in Hamilton Hill. CERIANN SPILLER spoke to DAPAK founder Kelly Buckle to find out how the organisation is changing the lives of people with special needs through their fun and inclusive programs, all inspired by their motto “everyone deserves to be a star.”

So where did the idea for this show come from and how did you go about adapting the story of Aladdin into a pantomime?

We originally performed the show in November last year for ability weekend. It was so successful we wanted to take it further, hence our Fringe application. I actually managed to find the rights for Aladdin the Pantomime from a UK company and the writer is Geoff Bamber.

And has it been different from shows you have done in the past? What’s been the most fun part of this show in particular?

It has been different adapting certain things and making sure all the cast were able to perform to the best of their ability. What we have enjoyed most about this production is watching the growth of the cast, watching their confidence blossom and just the pure thrill of being on stage.

“Everyone deserves to be a star” is a great motto and DAPAK sounds like an organisation a lot of people I know would be interested to know more about. How did DAPAK come to be and what do they endeavour to do with their programs?

I have been a Performing Arts teacher for many years and when I moved to Australia I saw gaps that I wanted to fill. I have a Dance Therapy degree which I wanted to implement here in Perth and widen that to create open opportunities for people living with disabilities.

And what do you find to be the most rewarding part of working on a show like this?

The most rewarding part has been working with some of the most dedicated, loyal and talented people I have ever come across, plus the fact that you never see a sad face here!

Do you believe there are enough services in Perth provided for people with disabilities to live their lives to the fullest? What would you like to see happen in 2020?

Definitely things are changing and there are so many inclusive projects all over Perth that are phenomenal. Things can always be better and I believe they will be better, we just have to keep believing and creating more opportunities.

What message would you want people who watch Aladdin the Pantomime to take away from the show and what’s next for DAPAK?

Inclusion. Just because you see somebody with a disability it doesn’t mean they are not capable of whatever they choose to do, even if it is outside the box. The whole cast of Aladdin has over and above exceeded expectations of what we envisioned. In 2020 we are working towards the same goals and the same principles; developing our inclusive club nights and applying for more funding so we can continue doing shows like this.

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