Page last updated at 13:08 GMT, Thursday, 19 November 2009

Artist to induce seizure on stage

Bradford Playhouse
The event is being held at the Bradford Playhouse

A dance artist with epilepsy is to try to induce a seizure on stage - but has been urged to reconsider by a charity.

Rita Marcalo has stopped taking her medication ahead of the event at The Bradford Playhouse, which the audience will be invited to film.

Arts Council England, which is funding the performance, said it aimed to raise awareness about the condition.

But the Epilepsy Action charity expressed concerns and urged Ms Marcalo to reconsider the event.

Ms Marcalo, the artistic director of Leeds-based dance company, Instant Dissidence, plans to induce a seizure as part of the 24-hour Involuntary Dances event on 11 December, which will also include dance and poetry readings.

'Public embarrassment'

If she has a seizure, an alarm will sound and the audience will be invited to film on their mobile phones.

Diane Horton of Arts Council England said: "This project raises awareness of a disability through the artist's personal experience of epilepsy and we support this.

"We have made sure that a full risk assessment of the project took place, including medical advice, and that appropriate medical support is available during the performance.

"Rita is an important artist whose work deserves to be seen and the Arts Council both respects the creative decisions she makes in her work and supports her right as a disabled person to be heard."

We would certainly ask the artist to reconsider
Simon Wigglesworth, Epilepsy Action

About £2,000 of Arts Council funding has been provided for the 24-hour performance. The total includes £932 for medical risk assessment and support.

Bradford Playhouse director Eleanor Bradford said: "Rita has made a decision that she wants to explore her own relationship with epilepsy.

"Sometimes epilepsy is seen as a hidden disability and people with epilepsy have traditionally felt they have to hide when they have a seizure - it is associated with public embarrassment.

"Rita is doing is the opposite of that and is drawing attention to epilepsy in a very public way."

Deputy chief executive of Epilepsy Action, Simon Wigglesworth, said: "Our concern is that anti-epilepsy medication is the cornerstone of treating people with epilepsy.

"Throwing away seizure control treatment trivialises the condition and does not respect the fact that some people have spent time trying to get it under control.

"It is this artist's own decision as to what she might do but we are concerned that she is putting herself at risk and, if anyone else thought it was a good idea they would be putting themselves at risk.

"We would certainly ask the artist to reconsider."

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