London’s culture zones named

London’s culture zones named

London mayor Sadiq Khan has announced the capital’s first Creative Enterprise Zones, funded to support artists, small creative enterprises and local people.

 Africa Centre’s £1.6m boost

Africa Centre’s £1.6m boost

The Africa Centre’s transplant from Covent Garden to Southwark has received a major boost with a £1.6m grant from the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund, while the Black Cultural Archive has been saved from possible closure by a government grant of £200,000.

TAITMAIL     Singing to the stars

TAITMAIL Singing to the stars

It was like a Sunday afternoon at a Southern Gospel Chapel. Massed choirs on the stage jigging around and waving their arms about, the audience responding by standing and clapping their hands above their heads as they hooted their approval, impassioned young conductors urging both choir and audience on to still more frenzy. 

TALK OF THE TOWN HALL   But they persisted….

TALK OF THE TOWN HALL But they persisted….

Patrick Kelly on the arts champions on local authorities who have made cultural revolutions happen

Julie Finch to run Compton Verney

Julie Finch to run Compton Verney

The new director of Compton Verney Art Gallery in Warwickshire is to be Julie Finch, currently the Cheltenham Trust’s CEO.

Thanet council plans museum handover

Thanet council plans museum handover

Campaigners are calling on Thanet District Council to halt its plans to sell Margate Museum, with more than 100 people have signed a petition to keep the heritage building, once a police station, in public hands.

DEA BIRKETT   Paris – where the show never closed

DEA BIRKETT Paris – where the show never closed

In the first of a series marking the 250th anniversary of the circus, Dea Birkett– the official Ringmaster of Circus250 – goes to Paris where circus is defying the gilets jaunes

Outdated systems blocking creativity growth - CIF

Outdated systems blocking creativity growth - CIF

Growth in the creative industries is being stymied by government and policy bodies working by out-dated definitions, according to a report published today by the Cultural Industries Federation (CIF).

Pitzhanger to re-open after £12m restoration

Pitzhanger to re-open after £12m restoration

Pitzhanger Manor, the dream country home created for himself and his family by Sir John Soane, in his time England’s most celebrated architect, is to reopen in March after major restoration.  

‘Purity’ of boys’ voices – it’s Garrett v Bach Choir

‘Purity’ of boys’ voices – it’s Garrett v Bach Choir

Opera soprano Lesley Garrett’s call for an end to male-only choirs has been rebuffed by the head of one of the leading ensembles in the world, the Bach Choir.

New CEO for FACT

New CEO for FACT

FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) chooses Arts Catalyst's Nicola Triscott and new CEO

DEA BIRKETT Fifteen years ago, a museum visit changed my life

DEA BIRKETT Fifteen years ago, a museum visit changed my life

Last week we reported on the reopening of the V&A’s Cast Courts. Here, Dea Birkett recounts her own especial memory of them

Friends buy Burnley Empire for £1

Friends buy Burnley Empire for £1

The Victorian Burnley Empire has been saved by a friends group, days before it was due to go for auction.

Fitzwilliam’s gift of the Great Belzoni

Fitzwilliam’s gift of the Great Belzoni

The larger than life archaeologist, explorer and circus strong man known as the Great Belzoni is to adorn Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum.

The smartphone Turner Prize

The smartphone Turner Prize

Charlotte Prodger has won this year’s Turner Prize for visual art with a 32-minute film shot on her smartphone.

Rogers to leave Birmingham REP

Rogers to leave Birmingham REP

Executive director steps down after 17 years

To all Dome-loving humans…

To all Dome-loving humans…

David Shrigley has created this limited edition print with proceeds from sales going towards the Build Brighton Dome community appeal.

How WWI enriched contemporary art

How WWI enriched contemporary art

More than 35m people, half the population, have engaged with the 14-18 NOW commemorations of the First World War, which has now ended after five years.

Ally Pally theatre reopens after 80 years

Ally Pally theatre reopens after 80 years

Alexandra Palace’s theatre and East Court reopened at the weekend after a £27m, three-year restoration project.

What's up in… Bristol

What's up in… Bristol

AI looks at what's coming up around the country – this week, the arts in Bristol. 

Bid to save Turner’s Thames view

Bid to save Turner’s Thames view

The government has mounted a campaign to save J M W Turner’s painting Walton Bridgesfor the nation by placing an export stop on it.

Victorian art world – recast by the V&A

Victorian art world – recast by the V&A

The Cast Courts at the V&A, two of the museum’s original 1850s galleries, have reopened after a seven year programme, restored and refurbished as they were 160 years ago.

Brexit: May's deal and the arts

Brexit: May's deal and the arts

The Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement still leaves the arts and cultural industries in doubt about the future.

Rhian Harris takes over in Lakes

Rhian Harris takes over in Lakes

Rhian Harris, director of the V&A Museum of Childhood since 2008, is to be the new chief executive of Lakeland Arts.

My Story: Sign of the times

 

Deafinitely Theatre was founded 14 years ago to be a showcase for deaf talent, for hearing as well as deaf audiences. its artistic director is the actor and director Paula Garfield, who is herself deaf

What inspired you to create Deafinitely Theatre?
I was a freelance actor for ten years, working in community theatre, repertoire theatre and theatre in education. This was a great experience, but I felt there was lack of deaf-led theatre and empowerment for deaf actors. I wanted to create more opportunities and work for deaf people, without having to explain what deaf actors need; it would be provided for deaf actors automatically.

What do you feel it offers to the theatre community?
For the last 20 years, the number of deaf clubs has declined, leaving the deaf community with fewer places to go. I remember growing up watching drama competitions and performances within the deaf clubs. There have also been closures of deaf schools. Deafinitely Theatre doesn’t only provide signed performance and theatre, but is also a social event. The deaf community sees sign language as the centre of the stage.

Part of the company’s characteristic is that all performances are presented in British Sign Language (BSL). Is the understanding of BSL more widespread now than it was, and how do you avoid it interfering with the narrative of a drama?

Deaf directors don’t have the same privilege as hearing directors. This is because we have to think about creating something that is accessible to both deaf and hearing audiences. I want to build a bridge for the two audiences to enjoy the theatre together. 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents so I want to create something that the whole family can experience and enjoy. The understanding of BSL has improved over the years; it is more widespread as people are exposed to it through social media, e.g. Facebook and Twitter.

When devising a performance I have to think about accessibility for the hearing audience. When I choose a script I have to find one that I feel will adapt to BSL. It is difficult because you have to respect the writer, so I always work in a way that the hearing actor will fully voice the script and the deaf actor will sign in BSL. That way nothing is lost from the original script. Alternatively sometimes we use BSL with additional captions, so that again nothing is lost from the script.

How are you funded?

We are an NPO (national portfolio organisation). Our core funding is from the Arts Council, and we rely on individual trusts for some projects.

Is there enough official support for deaf performers, and how would you like to see it changed?
There is no training for deaf actors. Some deaf people do attend drama school, but that means that the person has to adapt to fit in. There are no specialised courses for deaf actors on how to translate material into BSL or VV (visual vernacular), or how to use sign language on the stage.

Where does you material come from – is it all original or do you also adapt existing work for your stage?

In our early work we devised from deaf stories; however, the problem with this is the difficulty in selling the play to an audience. A well-known writer and well-known play is much easier to sell. It was
a pleasure to do our early devised works, but now that we’re trying to breakthrough into mainstream theatre we have to choose more well- known scripts. Like I said earlier, we aim to keep the original meaning
of the scripts, but adapt to make it accessible with BSL.

How many productions do you present in a year?
We do one children’s production, one youth production and one main production per year.

You are based at Diorama Arts near Regents Park in London. Does this give you a public auditorium, and do you tour to other venues? 

We use Diorama Arts as an office space and rehearsal base, but we hire venues, mostly in London, for a production run. We are planning to start touring in a few years’ time.

Has the audience changed since you founded the company in 2002?
Back in the early days most of the audience were members of the deaf community, and for the last few years the number of deaf people in the audience has slightly decreased while the number of hearing people attending has increased. As a deaf director it is important for me to evaluate why this is happening and why the number of deaf people attending is less. It could be that the increase in ticket prices means people cannot afford to attend. I have noticed that it is a more educated middle class group of deaf people attending the shows. It is my aim to reach out to the grassroots deaf community - the theatre location and venue affects the audience, and for some it is too far or difficult to access.

What are your plans for 2016, and what is your next production?
We are planning to have our main production in the autumn of 2016. We have a youth production at the Tricycle Theatre as part of National Theatre Connections - we are keeping our fingers crossed and hoping to be chosen to perform at the National Theatre.

 

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