A resident seal called Benny that lives on the steps of the Sydney Opera House has become the inspiration for a unique new workshop developed and choreographed by a talented group of people with disability.

This collaborative workshop from the Opera House Centre for Creativity promises something different as it takes participants on an immersive journey creating movements around Benny’s qualities – balance, play, adaptability and strength.

F2L went behind the scenes at the Opera House to a special rehearsal of Dreams of Benny meeting the artists involved in this unique performance created by lead artist Sarah-Vyne Vassallo who described how diving into the world of Benny has taught the team a lot. “Inspiring us to design the workshop around these four specific attributes that we have learnt about Benny. Attributes that relate to us in our lived experience that we can take into our day-to-day life and creative practice,” she said.

The workshop will be narrated by writer and performer Emily Dash who said people with disability were often made to feel small and their contributions minimised. “We do have contributions to make, stories to tell and voices that need to be heard and respected,” she said. “This talented group of people have brought their skills and expertise to this rehearsal room together, because it is a labour of love and friendship.”

According to Emily, Benny has brought symbols about seals to the workshop. “His journey is our journey. It is the first disability-led play by people with disability, for people with disability, to be performed at the Centre of Activity.

“What emerges is a personal connection showing authentic skills, she said. “Art is about revealing something about yourself in a way that encompasses others to see themselves. What I would describe as a ‘principal in action’”.

The workshop takes place at the Opera House Centre for Creativity, on Sunday July 9. 

The show runs from 10am to 2pm and includes a one-hour break.

For booking details: https://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/workshops/dreams-benny#:~:text=This%20immersive%20three%2Dhour%20workshop,that%20explore%20Benny’s%20admirable%20qualities.

Photo: The cast are seen holding visual artist, Digby Webster’s artwork where the Opera House mascot, Benny the seal, has been painted in various colours and forms.