David, performing in the play 'The man who found his freedom'

The man who found his freedom

Vicky is a support worker based in London who has been working with David for 12 years. David has cerebral palsy and recently starred in a dramatic production of a play inspired by his life –  ‘The Man Who Found His Freedom’.

In this blog Vicky tells us about David’s story and the emotional experience of seeing his play in production. 

As a Scope Information and Support Worker in London, I have been working with David Grindley on and off for the past 12 years. David has cerebral palsy, which affects his speech and movement, and is a full time wheelchair user.

David has always wanted to tell his own story from going into residential care to finally having his own flat with the right support giving him choice and control in his life.

David has always loved the performing arts. In 2014, David decided to share his experiences. With his love of theatre playing a part in so much of his life, there was no better way to tell his story than onstage. David is a long-term resident of the Isle of Dogs and the original member of the Space’s community theatre company.

David finds his freedom

A scene from the play, with two men looking through a record collection‘The Man Who Found His Freedom’ is a play inspired by David’s life, devised with a company of writers and actors. Examining life in care, family and friendships, this moving new production explores the meaning of determination – and tells the tale of a man who’s never given up.

David asked me to come and see his play. I didn’t know quite what to expect. The Space Theatre is based in an old Church on the Isle of Dogs with a cafe on the first floor serving drinks and good food.

David played the main role of Mikey with four supporting actors playing a number of different characters – family members and support staff. The performance was absolutely wonderful.

A scene from the play where David and a PA look at a Christmas cardTo see David’s dream being achieved and being part of that was a real privilege. My 11-year-old nephew who came with me was transfixed the whole way through the performance which I was delighted to see and that he was able to discuss it after with a real understanding.

It is such an important story

I thought the whole story was so well interpreted by the writers, the director and the wonderful cast of actors.

I have to say I was really blown away. It is such an important story and message to get to a wider audience: going into residential care; the struggle of being heard when you have a communication impairment; the abuse some people experience; getting your own flat and the challenges of getting the right support.

Feelings and emotions of leaving your family, being with people who don’t understand you and the joy and responsibilities of getting your own flat of being independent and having the right support – All of these are enormous challenges and the play really brought this home.

Everyone I spoke to in the audience said that this play should be seen by more people – so if you see that it is on again in the future please do go and see it – what a treat!