Deaf actor Matty Gurney to star in Edinburgh Fringe play, ‘Light’, aimed at deaf and hearing audiences

Posted on July 11, 2014

Theatre Ad Infinitum is set to perform the company’s first dystopian sci-fi play at the Edinburgh Fringe, in collaboration with Deaf actor Matty Gurney.

Inspired by the revelations of whistleblower Edward Snowden, and the debate surrounding state surveillance, Light brings to life a nightmarish future where the state is secretly watching citizens’ minds.

Matty Gurney

Matty Gurney

Excited by an encounter with Matty Gurney during a Research and Development session at The Bush Theatre, writer/director George Mann took Light in a new and unexpected direction.

Matty and George had a common understanding of physical storytelling – George through gesture and mime, Matty through physical performance skills, British Sign Language (BSL) and Visual Vernacular (VV) – a visual form of physical theatre using the entire body, iconic gestures and facial expression.

George found Matty’s style funny, poetic, universal and very beautiful and he asked him to be a part of Light.

George said:

“Working with Matty has been an enriching experience. I realized how easy it was to assume that because some of our work is wordless and gestural, it is accessible to deaf people and British Sign Language users. I became aware that Matty ‘felt’ resonance and vibration in a way that I couldn’t and I used that awareness to experiment with Light’s soundtrack. We created sounds with deep-base frequencies to help tell the story and create ambience for all our audience. It’s something I’ll continue to tweak with sound designer and composer Chris Bartholomew and of course, Matty.”

He added:

“Although we aim to make all our work universal, not all of it is accessible without the aid of an interpreter. So we began to think about the changes we could make, including experimentation with music and sound. It wasn’t enough to assume physical theatre could be appreciated to the full by our deaf audience members and we involved them in the research and development of Light.”

Matty Gurney said:

“It’s been like learning another language. When I work with deaf peers we focus on the visual via sign language but this company doesn’t, so I had to put my first language (BSL) aside and create new gestures to provide visuals for the audience. I have found this challenging but I love it too, as it made me dig up the creative stuff inside me even more.”

“As for mainstream audiences, Light is very accessible – just like in silent movies with title cards which many deaf people love. And silent film is something that we miss, as you don’t see it very often anymore. Audiences can paint on and interpret their own thoughts on us and the performance – and we deliver the story via body language / gestures for them to pick up.”

Light is a human story which explores the horrors of state secrecy – all played out in darkness and fusing graphic novel and cinema-inspired sci-fi visuals with sound and physical storytelling.

The show will premiere at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe where it can be seen at the Pleasance King Dome at 5.15pm between 30 July and 25 August (excl 11 and 18 August). Tickets cost between £10 and £13.

Booking information: Venue: Pleasance King Dome. Dates: 30 July-25 August Time: 5.15pm Tickets: £10-£13 Box Office: 0131 556 6550 Online: More company info:

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