Alison Colborne – Artist Case Study

19 June 2018

Alison Colborne, nee Short, talks about her experience of living with Aspergers, and her work with Mind the Gap.

“My sister Pippa and I are both on the autistic spectrum. I’d always been quite interested in the arts and theatre. Pippa had heard about Mind the Gap’s work with people with learning disabilities including autism, and we went to a few taster sessions together. So I auditioned for the Making Theatre training course in 2007 and was accepted straight away.”

She continues, “I tried other organisations for possible employment but down to a lack of qualifications and having to disclose my disabilities, I couldn’t get work.”

However, Alison’s versatile skills as a performer and creative artist were recognised by Mind the Gap, and she was invited to join the acting company in 2010.

She says, “Mind the Gap welcomed me with open arms and it has really boosted my confidence. It’s just wonderful! One of my biggest achievements was learning a 13-page script for a show called Never Again in one night. The day after I only had to glance at the script a couple of times.”

Alison has gone on to be one of Mind the Gap’s most successful and in demand performers. Since 2016 she has been one of the principle cast members in Mia: Daughters of Fortune, a project and production inspired by a story very close to her heart. Her sister Pippa’s experience of becoming a parent to her daughter Rayne, and the challenges she has faced as a learning-disabled parent, was the catalyst for this project.

Alison explains, “it is an honour to be in the show to be portraying the message that Mia brings”.

She was also part of the ensemble cast of 9 performers in CONTAINED, which toured nationally and internationally in 2015 and 2016. This project sparked the development of a band that now gigs independently, in which she plays the flute – alongside fellow artist and the band’s leader – versatile composer and musician Jez Colborne. Who since May 2017 has been Alison’s husband.

“Yes, Jez and I are the first artist couple at Mind the Gap to get married. We met through our work at the company, and our relationship is one of the reasons Jez moved from Nottingham. It allowed us to spend more time together. Which led to us getting engaged in 2016 and married last year. So as you can imagine it’s been a pretty hectic few years for me!”.