4Play – A belated perspective

Last Friday (24/02/12) I went to see ‘4Play’ and since then time has flown by, but better late than never, here is my response to the event.

Every year Deafinitely Theatre showcase the work of 4 deaf writers that have won their place through the Deafinitely Creative Competition. Their future aim is to develop the progress made from the previous 6 years of the scheme and provide opportunities in the form of seminars and workshops.

Last year the tickets sold so fast I was unable to get one. Lesson learnt, I booked this year’s ticket well in advance to ensure I got to attend. Sure enough, when I arrived it was a packed house with the RADA studios bar barely containing the audience. As we were packed in like sardines I found it difficult to engage in signed conversation with my elbows pinned to my sides and crooking my neck at awkward angles trying to get the gist of conversations. Nevertheless it was a great atmosphere with many familiar faces including See Hear presenters Memnos Costi and Radha Manjeshwar, where upon seeing them, my mildly starstruck face was like waving a banner that said “I am hearing” to which my deaf friends giggled. Next time I promise to act cool!

When I go to see a play I must admit I’m normally a bit judgemental on the performer’s delivery and the director’s decisions but I’ve never much considered the writer (that is unless it is a devised piece). Watching 4play gave me a new appreciation for writers. I can’t imagine how difficult but then extremely rewarding it is to hand your lovingly crafted work over to a director and cast. I bet there are many sleepless nights about how it will all come together.

I refused to read any reviews before I went to see the plays, so having bookmarked Charlie Swinbourne and DeafFirefly, there I was a completely blank slate perched in seat E1 (after a bit of seating confusion) ready to fulfil my duties as “audience member”, although I was not expecting such dark material.

“A Sweet Slice” written by Stephen Collins; I was expecting maybe happy families and cake! Instead I was confronted with a dark, violent, portrayal of reality that provided a shock on my relaxed mind to heighten the powerful message. It was a shame Stephen did not get to see the final production as he is currently on tour with Graeae’s Reasons to be Cheerful.

“Confusions of a Shadow Boxer” by Matthew Gurney. Again a dark piece, this time about identity and mental health. SPOILER ALERT! An unexpected twist as the character of Daniel, from a deaf family and assumed deaf by the audience reveals his frustrations of being hearing and not knowing where he belongs. The character of Daniel was excellently portrayed by actor Alim Jayda and I found myself truly absorbed in his journey.

Lianne Herbert showcased her first play “TwentyFortySeven” this year. A fantastical look into the future where a Deaf government rule and speech is banned. Overall there was quite a dark feel to this piece (although it might be because I was watching from a hearing perspective) with some comic relief moments that made the finale seem even more brutal. I could absolutely reminisce to when I first started learning to sign and like the character of Dan used slow, exaggerated hand movements, chopping and changing between left and right hands and getting my vowels mixed up.

Vitalis Katakinas’ “Absence in Time” was the most light-hearted piece and a great way to finish the evening. His experience in mime, physical theatre and international sign language were hugely apparent in a play that appealed to deaf and hearing audiences alike with stand out performances from actors David Sands and Lina Kankeviciute. This was definitely my kind of theatre and as it received a great audience response I hope it is developed in the future.

I wish all the writers the very best and hope to see more of their work soon.

 

“4Play” ran at RADA Studios (formerly Drill Hall) 22-25th Feb 2012

You can see Deafinitely Theatre’s upcoming work as part of the World Shakespeare Festival 2012 at the Globe Theatre. Love’s Labour’s Lost will be performed in British Sign Language 22nd and 23rd May 2012.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. […] saw Alim perform as part of this year’s Definitely Theatre’s 4 Play (You can read my response here) and was wowed by his presence on stage. I was excited to find him on Youtube and got the chance to […]

    Reply

  2. […] attended last year (4Play 2012) I came with a few expectations of form, content and style. However, new writing opens up for […]

    Reply

  3. […] Many people recognize me from last year’s 4play at the Deafinitely Theatre comic performance ‘‘Absence in Time’’ by Vitalis Katakinas as the Russian’s wife. (reviews: http://www.disabilityartsonline.org.uk/Deafinitely-Theatre-4Play-2012, https://stageandsign.wordpress.com/2012/03/02/4play-a-belated-perspective/, […]

    Reply

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