Posts Tagged ‘Deafinitely Theatre’

As You Like It: Day 13

Rain, rain and more rain but the show must go on!

We had some lovely young people from Taking Flight’s outreach project visit us this morning to help us out with the opening of the show.

“Here shall he see no enemy but winter and rough weather.”

Making the most of Cyfarthfa Castle grounds we plodded on, definite progress made but a bit soggy for taking pictures.

This evening I’m a bit homesick, I think this is partly due to missing out on seeing Deafinitely Theatre’s ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at The Globe. Social media keeps informing me it is great, I am both glad and envious of those posts. There’s also the reunion of ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ tonight at DaisyFest. The Welsh Valleys feel very far away right now but I do know it is wonderful to be a part of a great team bringing accessible theatre to the parts of Wales where ordinarily it has little exposure.


(This post is badly written, apologies, I blame this on tiredness, the weather and a touch of homesickness.)

4Play 2013 Deafinitely Theatre

This year’s 4Play by Deafinitely Theatre – an initiative which supports deaf writers, was hosted at the newly opened Park Theatre. So newly opened in fact, they were literally putting up the front door and frantically posting up “wet paint” signs as I arrived. Nevertheless, the theatre was welcoming and the performance space intimately gorgeous with the auditorium seating 200 people. I sat perched in the circle with fantastic sight lines, even for a little’un like me.

Having attended last year (4Play 2012) I came with a few expectations of form, content and style. However, new writing opens up for infinite possibilities so the anticipation of what was about to commence was filled with intrigue.

Buddha Knows by Aliya Gulamani and directed by Deafinitely Theatre’s artistic director Paula Garfield was a rollercoaster of ups and downs. A highly relevant piece of societal perspective with moments of comic relief, just as you thought you knew where the story was headed Aliya took you in the other direction. Performers Brian Duffy and David Sands had wonderful on stage chemistry whilst Charlotte Arrowsmith delivered a beautifully truthful performance drawing the audience into her character’s desperate desire to have a baby.

Mine was next up, written by Limping Chicken’s very own Charlie Swinbourne and directed by Jeni Draper. (Charlie’s blog) Now, I don’t often cry at the theatre but this piece moved me so much I was on the edge of my seat, holding back tears. Mine cleverly portrayed many complexities through a simple script. Whilst much of the signed dialogue had a recorded voice over to enable access for the audience, there were choice moments where beautiful storytelling through BSL was left in it’s purity. This was wonderfully delivered by Jean St Clair who played the protagonist Annie. The lack of explicitness contributed to the powerful impact of the piece; the strong subtext, the conversations not had, the things that make us human and unite us all.

After the interval (which was much needed to recover from the emotional rollercoaster), Lianne Herbert made her second appearance at 4Play after showcasing her first short play last year Twentyfourseven. The Door was directed by Ramesh Meyyappan and the character of The Girl performed by Lina Kankeviciute. The play consisted of no dialogue but a montage of scenes which could have been repeated forever to show the girl’s endless entrapment inside a locked room. The performance exhibited Lina’s command of physical theatre skills as she allowed the audience to see into the mind and memories of her character.

The last piece of the evening was En-Route, written by the familiar face to Deafinitely Theatre; Matthew Gurney and directed by Daryl Jackson. The comical but endearing story that saw an unlikely friendship formed between an old man and a Libyan backpacker without a passport. With deafness in common but still a language barrier the highly visual communication was perfectly placed upon the stage. They say a picture paints a thousand words, if that is the case then visual vernacular paints at least 2,000! But no words were needed.

A truly enjoyable evening where physicality, visual vernacular and BSL triumphed over spoken English. I am certainly looking forward to 4Play 2014.

4Play 2013 was at The Park Theatre, London 1st – 4th May

Tanika’s Journey – Deafinitely Theatre

Picture from Deafinitely Theatre’s Facebook page

Ever since enjoying Deafinitely Theatre’s production of Love’s Labour’s Lost involving their use of visual signed language I have been eagerly anticipating this performance and was hoping for more of the same, I was not disappointed. Before attending a show I prefer to remain uninfluenced and have avoided reading reviews and the comments rapidly spreading on the social networks. Considering the buzz around Tanika’s Journey, it has not been easy!

It was my first time attending Southwark Playhouse so I had the glorious advantage of enjoying this unique space as a blank canvas, not imposing any previous ‘ghosts’, memories or feelings ‘The Vault’ may contain. My journey from the cosy bar to the performance space mimicked that of stepping through the wardrobe to Narnia. I was immediately immersed into a world, somewhere far away, I carefully trod through snow, pushing bare tree branches aside in a quest to find my seat. Whilst convention often dictates I should passively sit and fulfill my role as a ‘good’ audience member, a feeling in my belly told me otherwise, I cast my eyes across at the rows of audience sat opposite. Some were chatting in hushed tones, some were signing and some were just sat, but I sensed we were each pieces in a snow globe waiting to be shaken up at any second.

The performance began and I was plunged in to the harsh weather conditions of a Ukrainian forest. Southwark Playhouse was warm but I found myself tugging at my sleeves of my jumper and popping my coat across my knees. As the story unfolded I laughed, cried a little and smiled a soft, heartfelt smile. Now, I could dissect why this performance had this emotional impact on me. For one, the acting was excellent, the set, sound and lighting remarkably clever. Ultimately what made this performance great was simply beautiful storytelling.

How key storytelling is to great theatre and Deafinitely Theatre certainly did a fantastic job of it!
Now off to finally read those reviews.

Tanika’s Journey is on at Southwark Playhouse until the 20th October 2012. For more info visit Deafinitely Theatre’s website here.

Love Labour’s Lost

The Globe to Globe project sees the theatre staging 37 plays in 37 languages. Many cultures have been brought to The Globe Theatre to celebrate the World Shakespeare Festival 2012.

Personally, I love The Globe and I love Shakespeare. I also happen to love Sign Language so it was with utter excitement and delight that I attended Deafinitely Theatre’s production of Love Labour’s Lost.

Picture by Simon Annand via Facebook

Let me cut to the chase and say the performance was fabulous. I have never quite considered a relationship between BSL and the Bard but after having experienced a pure signed performance I can confidently say they are a potential match made in heaven.

A focus of the festival, which was highlighted by Deafinitely’s performance, was on language, in this case BSL. Sign Language was king, without the stigma of “impairment”, it did not matter if the actors were deaf, HoH or hearing, it was the language that was central to the show. The audience response strongly echoed this as tweets came flooding in such as

Hurruh to those who came with no knowledge of BSL and left with an appreciation for the richness of the language.

The cast were brilliant! It’s impossible to pick out any one exceptional performance as they were all of equal calibre.

David Sands got to do what he does best and engage with the audience in a highly energetic performance as Costard the fool. The King of Navarre was played with wonderful honesty by Stephen Collins. The Lords played by Matthew Gurney and Vitalis Katakinas had impressive energy (and equally impressive beards!) The Princess of France (Nadia Nadarajah) and her Ladies (Charlotte Arrowsmith, Donna Mullings and Patsy Palmer) portrayed the strong female characters with buckets of playfullness and sass. Brian Duffy played Boyet with fantastic physicality and Adam Bassett as Don Armado the Spaniard ended the performance with a signed poem that truly blew me away. Well done to all! A special mention must also go to the musicians who provided an aural background whilst offering comical engagement with the actors.

The translation from Shakespeare’s text to Sign was expertly done and the deaf cast performed so visually and made excellent use of the unique space that is the Globe Theatre. (A personal highlight being The King exiting the sage to the yard and crying on the shoulder of my friend’s sister.)

Picture by Simon Annand via Facebook

Ever since I was a young whippersnapper of a ‘BSL for Beginners’ student I have loved watching signed stories and found myself mesmerised by how visually descriptive BSL can be. Recently I found out about Visual Vernacular (VV) and it’s influence was clearly represented in the performance of Love Labour’s Lost. Shakespeare’s use of descriptive language made for a wonderfully visual performance that made BSL accessible to hearies (with the aid of surtitles).

The surtitled appeared on 2 screens and summarised the scene being performed in a sentence or a few words. The feedback I got from non BSL users was that they really got the gist of the storyline and I took pleasure in seeing hearing BSL students around the theatre who were clearly following the story and also picking up on some of the basic signs.

Whilst making BSL accessible to all was great, it was wonderful to see what felt like the entire Deaf Community in a packed house creating a buzzing atmosphere. Due to the nature of the theatre it was possible to sign a conversation across the Globe to a familiar face (another reason why Shakespeare and BSL are a perfect match). In my previous visits I have always enjoyed the atmosphere of being a groundling but this event without a doubt trumps them all.

Truly a historical event to remember!

Love Labour’s Lost is now embarking on their National tour, to ensure you don’t miss out check the dates and venues on Deafinitely’s website.