Chicken Chat: Sophie Stone tells the Chicken about her starring role in Dr Who

Posted on October 9, 2015

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The Chicken has been chatting late at night with Sophie Stone, who plays Cass in the recent episode of Doctor Who.

Sophie has had an impressive career already but being on Doctor Who cause a tidal wave of interest in deaf stars on screen.

Sophie Stone

Hey Chicken, I’m ready for your questions.

The Chicken

Yeah! How are you?

Sophie Stone

Aye I’m good, recovery from the flu but can’t complain. Yourself?

The Chicken

Yeah all ok here in the coup. You didn’t seem like you had the flu on Saturday. You hid that well!

This week has all been a bit mad hasn’t it? Have you ever had a week like it?

Sophie Stone

Nope, not quite as mad as this. There were some big moments after Mother Courage at the National Theatre that will stay with me for life, but this weekend allowed me to talk to young ‘Whovians’ and make connections with those at the heart of this program

The Chicken

Young Whovians?! Has social media made a difference this time around? I bet your Facebook and Twitter have gone a bit bonkers.

Sophie Stone

I think social media helps your work and for people to feel closer to the characters they form an opinion on. It works both ways. Mainly, its lovely knowing that the show is reaching people who have lost faith in the representation of disability or diversity on screen and reigniting their belief in writers and casting.

cass

The Chicken

You mention the representation of deaf or disabled talent. Do you ever just wish that you could just act and be appreciated without that angle to your work? I mean without it being an issue in itself?

Sophie Stone

Yes, in most cases I do.

But I’ve learnt to appreciate the weight of what I do and the responsibility I have to work with and reassure people in the profession that it isn’t and shouldn’t be an ‘issue’,

Most things can be worked around and if anything, a company can grow stronger with teamwork and togetherness at the centre of it all.

It’s very hard to escape who I am and I know now that I don’t have to.

Without my deafness, I wouldn’t be the actor I am; have the opportunities I’ve been given or make the difference in the profession that I have so far.

The Chicken

I never thought I’d ever ask this question and expect a straight answer but is Doctor Who deaf aware?

Sophie Stone

I would say the doctor is aware of almost everything in this time zone and the next, but that’s not to say he accommodates the knowledge with human warmth and empathy!

However, he dismisses everyone equally and speaks to Cass directly which is how it should be, so there’s a mutual respect there.

The Chicken

I asked friends on Facebook if they had any questions for you – would you like to know what they are and answer them?

Sophie Stone

Ready and waiting …

The Chicken

This one is from Jason, he asks: What is it like on set being a deaf person, with hearing people all around talking? Do you have an interpreter or someone to help you with group conversations?

Sophie Stone

I personally didn’t have an interpreter and neither did Jean St Clair, our BSL consultant. But the team rallied round and we all worked together to make sure everyone was clued up and comfortable.

I chose to work directly with my colleagues this time, but this doesn’t work in my favour for every job I do. I was very fortunate for the awareness and accommodation of the people in this one.

The Chicken

Glad it went well! Another reader question then.

Emma asks: Do you think there should be more focus on increasing Deaf actors, producers or directors into mainstream TV or more focus on developing Deaf written, produced, directed independent media?

Sophie Stone

I think both are incredibly important.

Not everything we do is going to be hitting prime-time spots and changing the world overnight, but we’re all part of the bigger picture, and focusing on making work for our own creative value and community means honing a craft and flexing acting, writing and directing muscles. These muscles can then give you a stronger position in the mainstream as an individual.

When you’ve earned a place in the mainstream (like anyone else has to), you can then make the work you want to make and it won’t feel like a separation of art form, but more of a bringing together. Quality is everything.

The Chicken

Your answers are of good quality too.

Sophie Stone

Waffle more like

The Chicken

No comment.

So, here we are then with another one from Ted. I think you might know him. Who inspires you?

Sophie Stone

Who inspires me? People that ‘do’. I’m inspired by passionate people who dedicate time and energy to their craft but still remain true to what’s good and just.

The Chicken

Care to name names? Not including me, of course.

Sophie Stone

Angelina Jolie.

The Chicken

I like her too. So then this from Chloe. I’m beginning to feel a bit like Jeremy Corbyn at Prime Minister’s Questions.

She asks: How does it feel knowing you’re an inspiration and have influenced thousands of young children, both hearing and deaf, by allowing them to realise they have great potential?

Sophie Stone

I had no idea the effect the role of Cass would have on so many people. When I read Toby (Whithouse)’s script, I fell in love with Cass’ strength, loyalty, position and most of all, her ‘voice’.

It shows the normality of deaf people’s daily working relationships and work ethics and puts the focus on the results not the technique.

I wanted to play Cass as ‘one of us’ because every kid that watches and feels inspired by her position could find their own potential and hold a strong position in the world too.

As an actor, it’s a very honourable feeling to be able to show others that these dreams are possible to achieve.

The Chicken

This is a big deal. The impact of your appearance on Dr Who is undeniable. I’m getting Goosepimples. Or is that Chickenpimples?

Don’t answer that.

What’s next for you and do you really think your appearance on Dr Who could lead to more deaf roles?

Sophie Stone

I’m starting rehearsals in November for a show called ‘Herons’ by Simon Stephens at the Lyric Hammersmith directed by Sean Holmes.

I am honestly very excited about the response the BBC have received from both deaf and hearing people about Cass and the way deafness is portrayed on screen.

The Doctor Who team are very optimistic about the use of more deaf and disabled people in their future projects and they’ve also talked openly about how more people in the business should be considering this too.

But we have to back it up with more skilled actors, so there’s no reason for casting directors to look elsewhere.

The Chicken

Sophie, thank you!

Watch Sophie’s performance now, by clicking here.

Interview by Andy Palmer. Andy Palmer is the hearing father of a Deaf son, and is also a child of Deaf parents. He is Managing Director of the Cambridgeshire Deaf Association, runs Peterborough United’s deaf football teams and is Chairman of the Peterborough and District Deaf Children’s Society and teaches sign language in primary schools. Contact him on twitter @LC_AndyP

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The Limping Chicken is the UK’s deaf blogs and news website, and is the world’s most popular deaf blog. It is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.

Please note that the views of the writers are their own, and not necessarily the views of the Editor or site as a whole. Read our disclaimer here.

Find out how to write for us by clicking here, or sign a blog for us by clicking here! Or just email thelimpingchicken@gmail.com.

Make sure you never miss a post by finding out how to follow us, and don’t forget to check out what our supporters  provide: