Not Your Circus Dog is the collective behind Not F**kin’ Sorry, the unapologetic, queer, punk, crip cabaret touring London, Manchester and Leicester this September. We spoke to performers and creatives DJ (Housni Hassan), Stephanie Newman, Emma Selwyn and Adam Smith.
What is Not F**kin’ Sorry about?
E: Not F**kin’ Sorry is about showing the world that, disabled, or neurodivergent people can and do, have the same, thoughts, fantasies and desires as all the rest, whatever levels of extremity or unextremity they are.
DJ: The show is about overcoming what brings you down. And how you can achieve and be more, and achieve more than those issues. It’s about believing in one another and breaking out from everything, leaving everything behind, and we are the focus.
Why should I go and see Not Fucking Sorry?
A: Because Not F**kin’ Sorry is a cocktail of various different things. It’s like a celebration of neurodiversity, and learning disabled people. It’s a celebration of fantasies. It’s important for people to know, that disability hate crime is everywhere. It’s also about letting learning disabled and neurodivergent people have a voice.
S: Not F**kin Sorry is a crip, queer cabaret where we, the artists present a show with us people who are disabled to people in the audience.
Can you tell me a moment in the show of something you do? A moment that you are in?
DJ: My dance. The dance tells so much.
A: Yes. In the show I am the lead for various parts in the show, including for the comedic ‘Yes We Can Have Sex Game! where I am the host. This is like a representation of neurodivergent and learning disabled/autistic people having the chance to take on leadership roles in the world, and that’s something that is very much important today. So our characters are, kind of like, representatives of what learning disabled and autistic/neurodivergent people go through in life and representing them. There is a connection between the audience and the cast members. In a way we are saying, no one is alone, and that we all go through different emotions and take on new challenges all the time. We all deserve to have our voices heard and that’s important.
How did you all come together? How did Not Your Circus Dog form?
E: Adam, Stephanie and I met during a diploma course in Performance-Making in 2016 with Access All Areas, and DJ had completed the course in the previous year. Stephanie and I were in the very original version of this piece, which we called ‘I’m Not Sorry’ which led to a number of shorter versions of the current show. I would like to say is that, throughout, Liselle, the director and co-deviser of the show has been thinking and planning about the show in the long term as we began the first version over 5 years ago. Liselle doesn’t think too much in the short term and is very pragmatic. I also think bringing in Adam and DJ all those years ago has transformed the piece. Having that stability, a consistent and stable group made up of Adam, DJ, Steph and myself, has probably really helped the piece. I feel like we’re finally beginning to find our footing. S: The show is also about sexual health for me. It would be brilliant if people who work in sexual health clinics came to see the show, as they could be transformed or people in a nursing development scheme.
E: So it would be interesting for health workers to see the show, as the show has evolved and is a lot more about sexuality than it used to be.
What do you think the audience will be taking home when they leave the show?
S: I believe that the audience should be allowed to watch this show because of the homosexuality and the disabled artists in the show. We present the whole show of Adam, Me, DJ, Emma and we need to carry it on and perform it over and over again.
A: I want the audience to feel amazed that we’ve had the courage to talk about our fantasies and crossing boundaries. I just want them to appreciate that we are talking about issues that are still happening today and for some who come to see our show that they may have gone through things, but and you’re not alone.
E: I would say to audiences, we make what we make, and you’ve gotta try and come along for the ride. We want to invite you in, but you need to try to be with us. I’m thinking more of the neurotypical audiences but that might apply to everyone. I want the audience to realise that learning disabled people can not only be professionals, but also that they don’t have to just stand there doing cutesy little songs and dances. They can be adults, they can be aggressive, they can be arseholes. Like Katherine Araniello who was a really important crip performance artist. She has influenced us all loads.
Will you make another piece together? What is next for Not Your Circus Dog?
DJ: It’s simple. We will always do shows.
A: Our previous performance project was for Duckie’s Princess Promenade at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens last September 2021. I can see us devising another piece about mental health discrimination, and really camping it up and really make it ‘in yer face’. That is our style for Not Your Circus Dog Collective.
E: For me, well I’m hoping that we take Not F**kin’ Sorry to other countries