Barking dance teacher awarded £15,000 for autobiographical theatre show

PUBLISHED: 16:00 15 June 2018

Sharlene Carter (left) and her mum. Picture: LBBD

Sharlene Carter (left) and her mum. Picture: LBBD


A dance teacher from Barking has secured a £15,000 grant to bring her inspirational life story to the stage.

Sharlene Carter, 33, was awarded funding from Arts Council England for My Journey, a new play about her mother’s disability.

Sharlene’s life changed forever 13 years ago when her mum was diagnosed with brain disease cerebellar ataxia, which affects speech and mobility.

The disease left her mother in a wheelchair, battling daily with day to day life, as well as the government and NHS.

Now dance teacher and choreographer Sharlene, of Margaret Bondfield Avenue, Barking, has decided to share her story as live theatre.

“I feel like we’ve switched roles and I am now the mother while my mum is the daughter,” says Sharlene, who also volunteers in the borough.

“It has been a long, hard process from learning about the disability to working out what I needed to do, even things you don’t think about such as what forms needed filling out.”

“The only way I feel I can express my experience is through dance.”

Sharlene plays herself in the hour-long dance show at The Broadway theatre, Barking.

“Stripping back 13 years of life has not been easy,” she added.

“It is physically and mentally draining but I’ve had a great team helping me.

“I’m really excited. I feel it is important that the issues I am addressing in the play are raised and addressed in the big wide world and I hope it starts a conversation.”

The play also received funding from the council, whose deputy leader, Cllr Saima Ashraf, said: “Art is an important part of our community and while it might seem easy to dismiss, it brings people together without prejudice, allowing them to express themselves.

The cabinet member for community leadership and engagement added: “We’re delighted to play our part in helping local artists aspire and achieve in Barking and Dagenham.”

My Journey runs between September 20 and 22, the final date marking 13 years of Sharlene’s mothering being in a wheelchair. Tickets go on sale later this month.

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