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New play brings to life inspirational story of Barking and Dagenham woman

Sharlene Carter and mum

A woman from Barking and Dagenham is bringing her inspirational life story to the big stage, after securing £15,000 funding from Arts Council England.

My Journey tells the dramatic tale of local artist Sharlene Carter, whose life changed forever in 2005 when her mum was diagnosed with Ataxia Cerebellar, a brain disease that affects speech and mobility, leaving her in a wheelchair.

The 33-year-old, who lives in Margaret Bondfield Avenue, Barking, has spent her entire life dancing and decided to take the unique step of telling her story through the world of dance.

“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.

Physically and mentally draining

“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.”

The 60-minute play will explore Sharlene’s story and cover a range of themes from the daily battles of living with a disability through to the government and the NHS.

As well as receiving the funding from Arts Council England, Sharlene had support from Barking and Dagenham Council.

Proud to support local artists

Councillor Saima Ashraf, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Community Leadership and Engagement, said the council was proud to support local artists.

Cllr 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.

“We’re delighted to play our part in helping local artists aspire and achieve in Barking and Dagenham.”

Sharlene, who will play herself, said it has been a difficult task going over everything again and laying bare her story for all.

“Stripping back 13 years of life has not been easy. 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,” said Sharlene.

The show will take place at The Broadway Theatre, Barking, between 20 and 22 September, with the final date marking 13 years of Sharlene’s mum being in a wheelchair.

Tickets for My Journey will cost £12 and will be on sale from The Broadway Theatre website at the end of June.

Visit Sharlene's crowdfunding page

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