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Deafinitely Theatre today announce the creation of the Hub

Deafinitely Theatre - The HubDeafinitely Theatre today announce the creation of the Hub – a new theatre training course for emerging deaf artists to gain structured, accessible, professional theatre training, with the aim of equipping participants for mainstream arts employment. The Hub will launch its inaugural year in September 2018.

The year-long programme, which has been developed and expanded from a previous pilot scheme, includes a variety of workshops in acting, writing and other aspects of the theatre industry, including stage management, through its Industry Insights workshops. The Hub will also provide two-year-long one-to-one mentorship schemes as well as a series of networking events and other opportunities throughout the year. Interpreter and caption support will be offered across the whole programme.

Following the programme Deafinitely Theatre continues its long-term commitment to supporting deaf artists across the industry, inviting participants to apply for paid internships and acting roles with the company.

Paula Garfield, Artistic Director of Deafinitely Theatre said today, “For the last few years, it has been amazing to see more and more mainstream theatre companies hire deaf actors, yet while it’s an exciting time for deaf actors to work in high-profile companies – a vital opportunity for them to learn their craft from other trained actors and from mainstream directors and creative teams – we do need deaf actors and theatre makers to have accessible opportunities to drama training.

Sadly, currently no drama school in London is fully accessible to deaf BSL users. There is only one specific course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. We need to see more like this all over the UK and so we are delighted to announce today our new project, the Hub. It is specifically aimed at deaf adults who have no other opportunities to train in theatre practices and learn their craft. There is proof that there is currently high demand in the industry for deaf actors and theatre makers and it is essential they have the same access to training so they are ready to start out in their chosen theatre careers. The long-term aim for the Hub is to establish tailor-made, full-time drama courses accessible for both deaf and hearing.

We are so excited that the Hub will be this first step, a multi-year course of training available to deaf adults wanting to learn theatre practices here in London. I am delighted that we have wonderful partners on board supporting us with this project. Thank you to Arts Council, England, without their generous funding this would not be possible. Thank you also to our partners – City Lit (City Literary Institute), RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) and the Royal Court Theatre – who are helping us to curate and design an incredible activity full of exciting opportunities for the participants. I am grateful to these partners for being willing to work with us here at Deafinitely to create and build more opportunities for the deaf community, enabling us to be more creative within the arts.

Joyce Wilson, London Area Director for Arts Council England, said, “Through its ambitious and pioneering work with deaf artists, Deafinitely Theatre is an exemplary champion of Arts Council England’s mission of Great Art and Culture for Everyone. We are thrilled about the launch of the Hub – this is the first training scheme of its kind for deaf adults in London, and will be central to supporting the strong, emerging talent we have in our capital. We hope that deaf artists are as excited about this programme as we are, and that the audiences who experience the work of Deafinitely Theatre in the future enjoy it even more.

Membership is £5 and participants will receive their first workshop free as well as a discount on subsequent classes. Further benefits include free tickets to theatre shows, invites to networking events and the opportunity to take part in the showcase.

A taster day for prospective members will take place on Saturday 14 July at RADA. Further details about this and information on how to become a Hub member will be available at www.deafinitelytheatre.co.uk from next month.

Deafinitely Theatre is partnering with RADA, the Royal Court Theatre and City Lit in support of the Hub.

The programme will run annually and includes:

Actors Course
Participants will take part in a series of workshops exploring various acting techniques that will culminate in a final showcase, providing an opportunity to engage with and present CVs to the wider industry. The showcases will be fully accessible and archived on film.

Writers’ Group
Participants will take part in a series of workshops led by some of Britain’s top playwrights to provoke, develop and explore their writing for live performance. Throughout, the writers will get first-hand experience of the practicalities of playwriting and have the opportunity to grow their professional networks.

Industry Insights
Hub members will have the opportunity to participate in eight one-off workshops throughout the year offering training in areas of theatre practice, such as theatre design and stage management, led by professional theatre practitioners.

Mentoring Scheme
Two mentors will work across 12 months with two mentees. Mentors will be committed professionals selected according to the skills and needs of each mentee. Each mentee will receive a bursary and have a bespoke brief to design and complete a ‘set task’ with ongoing support from their mentor.

Networking events and experiences
Four networking events will take place annually. These will be structured activities enabling all Hub participants to interact with industry professionals, present ideas and share their CVs. It will also provide the opportunity for Hub members to develop networking skills as a result of attending, very important to those whose first language is BSL.

There will also be theatre trips with an enhancement package attached offered each year. For deaf people, theatres can seem an intimidating place so these will offer a curated opportunity for participants to experience mainstream theatre and also benefit from backstage tours and staff-led Q&A sessions.

In 2002 Paula Garfield set up Deafinitely Theatre alongside Steven Webb and Kate Furby after becoming frustrated at the barriers that deaf actors and directors face in mainstream media. The company launched with a sell-out première of Deaf History at the Gate Theatre in London. In May 2012, the company performed the first ever British Sign Language Shakespeare play at the Globe Theatre, Love’s Labour’s Lost, celebrating its 10-year anniversary. In 2018 Deafinitely won the Off West End Award for Best Production for its site-specific production of Mike Bartlett’s Contractions.

The company’s vision is a world where deaf people are a valued part of the national theatre landscape, recognised for the excellence of their work. Deafinitely Theatre is the first professional deaf-launched and led theatre company in the UK that works bilingually in British Sign Language and spoken English and produces work that caters to audiences of all ages. Deaf theatre has a vital contribution to make to the UK’s diverse and vibrant theatre landscape. Deafinitely Theatre challenges barriers to training and opportunities and embraces the deaf world’s diversity. The company work hard to nurture the next generation of deaf actors, writers and audiences through its Deafinitely Youth Theatre and Deafinitely Little productions for young people, plus its Hub training and development programme for adults.


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