Dayo Koleosho: From the Paralympics to Damned.

Dayo Koleosho has a natural warmth and charisma, his kindness calms the room as he enters. One of our most experienced performers, Dayo was the only learning disabled circus performer in the Paralympic Opening Ceremony in London 2012 and has now landed a role on Jo Brand's new Channel 4 sitcom Damned. 

Can you describe your Access All Areas journey?

I’ve been with Access All Areas since 2004, when it was Rainbow Drama Group. It’s been an incredible journey. The first show I did was Metal Man with Elsie- she was brilliant to work with. We did Who Cares I was trying to help Michael out on the street and trying to do my best to help him out.

I don’t mind which characters I play, if a director asks what role or what play- I go for it. I don’t have complaints about what part I play. I just get on with it- that’s the part of being professional.

How do you think the company has changed in the last few years?

It has changed when Nick came in 2008, we’re being more involved in projects. We even did our diploma course. We’re getting involved in TV programmes.

The Diploma was a challenge. I've never done performances like it, it was very good to learn and I want to do new courses in the future.

“We’re all equal. We’re all talented.”

What has been your favourite memory at Access All Areas?

Eye Queue Hear is my favourite memory, we go around places to try and find the answer, using the audio and taking the audience around places. It’s so real.

The Misfit Analysis is definitely great, watching Cian perform, I’ve learnt a lot. I learn what’s going on with the world and getting treated like an outsider because of your disability. It’s good to learn from other people so that someday it could help influence you in the future.

How would you describe your role as a trustee?

A trustee helps make the next step for Access All Areas. What could be the way forward? What could be improved as a theatre company?

It gives people with learning disabilities an opportunity to say something. Sometimes, with a learning disability, we don’t have the chance to speak and as a trustee we have a huge role.

You were the only learning disabled performer in the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic games. Can you tell me about your experience?

Performing in such a big, Olympic stadium with thousands watching on TV and around you, was an incredible experience. It’s been brilliant. It was absolutely amazing doing it. To be part of the book of the declaration of human rights. I really enjoyed learning circus skills and doing the cradle.

When we all got together to sing ‘I am what I am’, there were a lot of people like Daryl Beeton. Sometimes this world can be judgemental of you because of what you are and it was a good part of learning that you are who you are, we’re all equal. We’re all talented.

With issues with the government and the way things have gone on in this world people with learning disabilities don’t get many opportunities like the ones that we’re having here at Access All Areas.

There is a really interesting, lost history of people with learning disabilities, we are exploring this in the performance of MADHOUSE. What have you learned about the history?

Seeing what happened with people in long stay hospitals it was very depressing because of what happened to them all those years ago and sometimes we should ask ourselves are we taking anything for granted. Now we’re doing MADHOUSE and we’re tackling those issues and we’re not going to stand for it. We’re going to do something about it.

Hopefully it will change the lives of people and the way that the world is sometimes of getting locked up and being trapped.

What are your hopes for the future?

I’m looking forward to being on Channel 4 for Jo Brand’s DAMNED.

When I first did the audition, the director was very impressed and it went well. My character is kind of funny especially when he’s looking after his kid and finding the best way to do that.

Well done to them for dealing with the issue of people’s assumptions about learning. People say people with learning disabilities can’t cope with having a child and I say that’s not true, we should stand up and say we can do it. 

I want to learn more about doing my own performances and that’s something I really need to learn. Like the one I’m doing in MADHOUSE and I’m now an assistant tutor on our new Spring Back project which will give me an opportunity to support and help others at Access All Areas.  

Any final words?

It doesn’t matter if we’re disabled, we can be equal. We’re all here, and we’re not going anywhere.

 MADHOUSE re:exit is currently in development, if you would like to donate to support the project, click here

To find out more about Dayo on Channel 4's Damned click here