Improbable's Theatre Beauty and the Beast ©

Image Credit: Sheila Burnett

What do you get when a born freak, a former beauty queen and an award-winning maverick director tell the true story of Beauty and the Beast? 

Mat Fraser, well-known British disabled actor and writer, Julie Atlas Muz, American art star and a Miss Exotic World/Miss Coney Island, and Phelim McDermott, artistic director of Improbable, conspired to make an adult fairytale like no other: a magical sexual journey into real and fabled romance between beastly and beautiful characters.

The British Council partnered with Live Art Development Agency for Access All Areas NYC, a free, day-long event looking at some of the radical approaches to representations of disability being taken by contemporary performance artists, particularly in the UK.

'Access All Areas (NYC Edition)' featured durational performance-installations by UK artists Noemi Lakmaier and Martin O'Brien; live action by Aaron Williamson and Leroy Franklin Moore Jnr.; and provocative debate on the cultural impact of disabled artists by UK and US practitioners including Mat Fraser, Sunaura Taylor, Carrie Sandahl, Sandie Yi,and Amanda Cachia. There were also screenings of UK-based artists, films and  performance documentation including work by Bobby Baker, Katherine Araniello, the Disabled-Avant Garde, Brian Lobel, and others; and a bibliotheque of essential books and DVDs drawn from LADA's Study Room.

The NYC Edition grew from Access All Areas, a critically-acclaimed public event and publication produced by the Live Art Development Agency in the UK in 2011 and 2012 as part of 'Restock, Rethink, Reflect Two' on Live Art and Disability. The program came to New York at the invitation of the British Council, to complement Abron's presentation of Improbable Theatre's 'Beauty and the Beast'.

Julie Atlas Muz - Beauty

Julie Atlas Muz has become one of the most acclaimed and prolific conceptual performers and choreographers anywhere. Her come-hither performances that have secured her a vaunted place in opposite realms — the underworld and the establishment art world. Muz was named Lambent Fellow, Valencia Biennial Artist, Whitney Biennial Artist, and Artist-in-Residence from Chashama, Joyce Soho, Dixon Place  and Movement Research. Since 2010 she has been touring creating and starring in radical evening length productions in Spiegeltents around the globe. 

Julie has created and toured The Freak and the Showgirl and Apocastrip WOW with her husband Mat Fraser. The show has been hailed as “gobsmacking” and has toured to shocked and delighted audiences in Australia, Holland the UK and America. A Whitney Biennial Artist, Valencia Biennial Artist, Ethyl Eichelberger Award Recipient, Lambent Fellow, and Franklin Furnace Artist,  Muz proudly champions the tradition of naked ladies in public spaces as acts of political resistance initiated in the 11th century by Lady Godiva.

Mat Fraser - The Beast

Mat Fraser is one of the U.K’s best known disabled performers, and is a multi disciplinary performing artist, actor, writer, and musician, who has played to a myriad of International audiences. Always interested in the relationship between disability and entertainment, his wit, subversive lack of political correctness, the sideshow style, & his playful sexuality, combine to make work that is new, challenging, and funny. He also hosted the Opening Ceremony for the 2012 Paralympics, drummed with Coldplay in the closing ceremony, and is a regular performer at The Box, & The Slipper Room & Sideshows by the Seashore in Coney Island.

Recent credits include 'The Fades', 'Cast Offs', & 'Holby City', with documentaries such as 'Born Freak' and 'Happy Birthday Thalidomide', as well as his award winning plays, 'Sealboy: Freak', and 'Thalidomide!! A Musical', both financially supported by ACE. He also played the lead in the controversial 'cripsloitation' action film 'Unarmed But Dangerous'. He is the title holder of the Erotic Award (UK) for Best Male Striptease artist 2007. In January 2014, he'll be debuting his new solo shows commissioned by a group of British museums, called 'Cabinet of Curiosities: How disability was kept in a box', details of which are on his website.


Phelim McDermott - Director and Artistic Director, Improbable Theatre

Phelim is a founding member of Improbable. He has been directing and performing since 1984, when he co-founded dereck dereck Productions with Julia Bardsley. Directing includes Improbable Tales at Nottingham Playhouse, The Government Inspector for West Yorkshire Playhouse, A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the English Shakespeare Company, and Shockheaded Peter, with Julian Crouch, a collaboration with The Tiger Lilies for Cultural Industry. He directed the West End Show Alex by Charles Peattie and Russel Taylor at The Arts Theatre and Leicester Square Theatre. Productions with Improbable include the multi award-winning 70 Hill Lane, Lifegame, Animo, Coma, Spirit, Sticky, Cinderella, The Hanging Man and Theatre of Blood, a collaboration with the National Theatre. He directed the acclaimed Philip Glass opera Satyagraha, in collaboration with the English National Opera and the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

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