My sister acts

From the Stockholm City Theatre in Skärholmen, the artistic director Carolina Frände, sent out an invitation to participate in a “Political party”, creating a performance with political overtones in the form of a party. I decided this was a good opportunity to put me and my sister in the limelight. This was in December 2010.

My older sister, Helena Bravo, is an extraordinary woman and physically disabled from birth. She’s diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP) and uses an electric wheelchair to move around.

I wrote a scene for three actors, one being Helena as someone with CP, to be performed on the “clown stage” at the theatre, as it has a soft floor. The scene takes place just as Helena and her assistant (me), meets with a representative of the social authorities, who’s job it is to evaluate disabled people’s need of personal assistance. The rep. asks questions, more and more absurd in their details, about Helena’s daily life, e.g. toilet habits, eating methods, ways of putting on clothes, etc. She ends with a question about Helena’s ability to stand up, which is met by dumb staring from both of us. Finally Helena agrees to demonstrate her standing abilities and with my help unbuckles from the chair and puts weight on her legs, me holding her upright, which is a somewhat heavy and potentially dangerous undertaking. The rep. is ready with a stop-watch, we count to three and I let go of Helena for half a second and then hold her again. The rep. takes notes. The evaluation is over and the rep. prepares Helena that because of her standing ability, the number of hours she can get personal assistance may decrease, the most important thing being that no-one gets an unfairly big amount of help. This is when Helena loses it. She screams and falls out against the other woman, who backs off. I struggle to hold her. Helena roars with sounds previously unheard on a stage. I can’t hold her anymore and lay her down on the floor and back off, embarrassed. The audience had giggled up to then, more and more uneasily. Now it is very quiet. Helena, a 45 year old woman, unable to help herself in any way, is left lying on the floor, screaming. She stops screaming, breathes heavily and rolls to her side, away from the audience. It is quiet.