INSPIRED by personal experience, artist performer, stand-up comedian and rapper Alan 'Cool' Clay is bringing this talents to the Mind The Gap Studio in Bradford next month.

Skip Rap explores how his challenging background and learning disability have affected the 41-year-old's life, views and creativity.

Alan, from Leeds, knows what it's like to to be put down, cast aside and written off and delivers a defiant and bold performance.

His performance, funded by Arts Council England and supported by Mind the Gap, fuses hip-hop theatre, digital imagery and junk - SKIPRAP 'has a kick of reality, a storming soundtrack and an energy' to entice the audience onto their feet.

Says Alan: “I wanted to create a show about my life; an in your face show which asks difficult questions. I’ve been called all sorts in my life; mong, spaz, spastic, and I even remember being told by a teacher at school that I’d never have what it takes. This is my chance to make my own show and say what’s on my mind. I’m not making a show about overcoming my disability, I’m presenting myself, my life, my struggles growing up and the judgement I face from society - it’s not some book someone else has written.”

Alan, whose career spans 20 years, including national and international touring with Mind the Gap theatre company, Oily Cart, Bench Tours and Theatre Workshop, has worked with Director Iain Bloomfield (Ex Artistic Director of Theatre in the Mill, Bradford), spoken word artist Baba Israel (the Spinning Wheel, Country Boy’s Struggle), and acclaimed MC, poet and theatre-maker Testament (Blake Remixed, WOKE), who appears on stage with Alan throughout the show.

Skiprap director, Iain Bloomfield, explains the show is as much about being a working class guy as it is about being learning disabled. He says it's about people who don't traditionally get the opportunity to be creative.

Iain explains how Alan has had the opportunity to make his own show "And talk about the world as he sees it and it is brilliant, the material is absolutely brilliant."

The show features 11 songs, including hip hop and rap tracks. "A lot are funny but there's some interesting stuff on what it's like to live on benefits," explains Iain.

"It's really an upbeat rap show but it talks about real life."

Iain, who has known Alan for many years, says: "It's been a real pleasure getting to know the guy. He is a phenomenal actor.

"All the lyrics, every single word has been generated by Alan and the quality of the material is super super strong."

He says the fact he is performing at Mind the Gap was exciting for them as well as they have been very much an integral part of his career progression.

"They have trained him, worked with him for years and years and for them to be able to float him out into the bigger world is a real validation of the Mind The Gap mission," adds Iain.

In addition to creating Skip Rap, Alan is currently touring the UK in Mind the Gap’s Mia, following huge success at last year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

SKIPRAP premieres at MTG studios, Bradford, at 7pm on Friday February 2 and Saturday February 3 before heading on to Square Chapel Arts Centre, Halifax at 8pm on Thursday February 8.

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