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One Hander

"I’ve always felt its message was pretty clear"

Tom Campbell's solo show isn't really about him being a one-handed performer. It's about you.

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Show: One Hander
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One Hander

Date: 5 Aug 2018

I wrote One Hander when I was living in London and feeling completely artistically deprived as an actor.

I’d always had a massive fear of doing stand-up comedy and had total respect for the art form. So I decided to tackle that fear and signed up for a stand-up night in Leicester Square.

The last time I performed One Hander was at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where I averaged an audience of about four people per show. I think everyone was at Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette.

Bloody gay Tasmanians!

Wait … I’m a gay Tasmanian … where’s my Netflix special?!

One Hander is essentially a selection of stories from my life about people’s response to my hand (or lack thereof) and their extreme and awkward reactions; funny stories in the guise of stand-up with a couple of silly songs.

And it goes for 50 minutes. Fantastic! A quick show’s a good show. Or a quick show’s a quick show. Depending.

Primarily, One Hander is a show designed to make people laugh. I’ve always felt its message was pretty clear. Although I don’t knock people over the head with an agenda – I prefer subtext and subliminal messaging – I assume that people will walk away with some sort of shift in their thinking.

Although I’m the one on stage and telling stories from my point of view, the show isn’t really about me. It’s really about the rest of society. I’d never had a problem with my physical difference until I was told by people that I should have a problem with it.

I pretty quickly reconciled that opinion: it was their issue, and said more about them than it did about me.

I could have spent my life being offended by what some people have said to me and how people have behaved towards me. But rather than spend time being angry or upset, or forcibly trying to change their thinking, I’ve always seen that behaviour as a lack of empathy or open-mindedness on their behalf, moved on, and let my individual actions and approach to life speak for itself.

That said, in this time when diversity is finally being brought to the forefront, particularly in the performing arts, and in an age where social media has brought on the ‘era of opinion’, One Hander will hopefully shift some of the thinking towards people who sit under the very large umbrella of ‘disability’.

I would never dare speak for anyone else under that umbrella but am happy to share my own, pretty unique individual experiences and hope that it contributes to the bigger picture of acceptance, celebrating uniqueness and squashing the horrible fear in humanity of ‘the other’.

Most importantly though, when you come to the show, have a drink, get loose and laugh loud. Or you’ll be judged for being mean to a disabled person.

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