Rathband

A close up of a middle aged white man's face. His expression is haggard and his fingers touch his left cheek right below his eye.

PC David Rathband was shot and blinded in Durham by escaped prisoner Raoul Moat in July 2010 – A  decade on, in July 2020, Extant launched an interactive Zoom cast of ‘Rathband’ by writer Christopher Hogg, hosted by visually impaired actor, Robin Paley Yorke.

Robin was an eye witness of the fateful event that took place ten years ago, living just nearby as the drama unfolded, and his memories of this and his subsequent sight loss poignantly underscores the audio drama of Rathband that plays in 3 acts during our event.  There are two intervals in which   Robin reads out comments from our live audience which were encouraged while the drama played out; reflecting the birth of social media at the time, and within that maelstrom, a policeman was shot, and Britain was changed.

Watch a recording of the performance on the player below and listen to the BBC Radio In Touch interview with writer Christopher Hogg and Robin Paley Yorke here: https://bbc.in/30fwwDo

Audience Response

“Thinking about #rathband with @extantltd last night. Many-layered, compelling emotion & performances skillfully woven into a challenging exploration of grief, loss, anger, disability, social media & the stories we chose to tell, publicly & privately”

“Thank you @extantltd for a brilliant, thought-provoking evening listening to the audio performance #Rathband. An amazing audio experience and really interesting discussion. Best arts experience in #lockdown”

“#Rathband from @extantltd definitely one of the best dramas in lockdown. This is brilliant work from all involved. Excellent pace. Lots of Layers. Powerful #DisabilityEquality #DisabilityCulture”

 With the increased reliance on digital interfaces due to the 2020 lockdown, this was a perfect time to reflect and contextualise the story of what happened to David. Since then there has been the collapse of public and private, the birth of narcissism on a mass scale, our sheer loss of concentration, and our inability to put down our screens.

Our Audience’s thoughts during the performance…

On Lockdown

“Such an important time to deeply reflect.  Consider priorities”

“not savored lockdown after being hospitalised with virus, recovery and now remote working” 

“Lock-down made the world smaller. Showed our vulnerabilities and reliance on others as blind and VI people. The same with social distancing. But there have been kindnesses and hope, and PC Rathband’s despair must not be the way we feel now we have lost some or all of our independence through COVID”

On Sight Loss

“Sometimes people are asked, “If you had to lose one of your senses, which would you least want to lose?”  Most often, the response is “sight”; at times accompanied by “I’d rather be dead.”  The program, so far, seems to feed into that notion. Blindness, even when occurring after decades as a sighted person, need not be totally or forever devastating–people who are blind have abilities and the public at large must find ways to accommodate people with varying abilities. In other words–to what extent is “disability” a matter of society’s inability to accommodate all people?”   

“The media spotlight that Rathband was in will have exacerbated the dissonance between his intensely personal struggles with sight loss and having to live up to the image of being brave, a hero, etc. The personal struggle is hard enough without the media pressure.”

On Social Media

“I remember my astonishment at the time hearing how Facebook was gathering this momentum of his supporters who just seemed to be coming out of the woodwork – Felt like it  had  turned over a stone that all this muck was under… and that’s only grown and grown over the last ten years”

On Heroes

“Being a “superhuman” can erase the details and nuance of a disabled person’s life”

“This is really making me think of how Rathband was portrayed in the press/public eye as a blind superhero triumphing over tragedy. I wonder why sighted people need to see blind people as heroes”

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