Lianne Herbert: Who would I be if I wasn’t deaf?

Posted on December 15, 2015

Some questions drive me insane. Especially the question: ‘What is the meaning of life?’ Your answers will of course depend on your own personal experiences.

I’ve changed many directions through the course of my young life. I’ve wondered before ‘Who would I be if I wasn’t deaf?’

Would I have sympathy and compassion for disabled people if I wasn’t deaf? Probably not. I also feel that before working in the severely disabled school I didn’t understand there were different ways of communicating.

Be it using a specially designed Communication Book for the user, electronic equipment like myTobii which uses your eye gaze to communicate or simply by eye contact and body language alone.

If I wasn’t deaf I probably wouldn’t have had the patience for people to use these tools of communication. The staff genuinely had hearts of gold.

In my short time there at the school I learnt a lot about how life could be more difficult for me as a disabled person. It changed my outlook on life.

It also made me want to focus, at the time, on my music career. I did find music challenging but I knew deep down I was probably playing the wrong instrument or musical genre. I had learnt the piano to the ABRSM Grade 7 standard. (Please don’t ask me to play the piano as I haven’t practiced in donkey years!)

I’ve always wanted to be a singer – even though I was deaf. I am proud to say that after many singing lessons and courses that I CAN sing in tune… (Now you’ll be wanting evidence won’t you?!)

Lianne HerbertBefore I met my D/deaf friends in London (by pure chance) through Deafinitely Theatre I didn’t have a strong deaf identity.

I felt lost as I didn’t really know any other D/deaf people to meet up with regularly. Also I didn’t know British Sign Language – I knew the alphabet growing up but that doesn’t constitute as conversation – let’s face it!

It’s hard to practice ANY language if you don’t have or know of local people around you who converse in that particular language.

One day, when I was living in London, I was looking at the Disability Arts Online website via my good friend Google and I saw theatre performances were coming up.

Deafinitely Theatre’s 4play showcase of 2011 was at Drill Hall (now RADA Studios). The blurb sounded interesting and I thought it was good to see something different! I invited my deaf friend to come with me and we enjoyed the show. This one life changing event led me to enter their ‘Deafinitely Creative Competition 2011’ and I won a place!

My original idea for the competition was based on George Orwell’s 1984 which I greedily read before applying. I had sign language being banned and if people were caught signing their hands were chopped off!

Once on the course Andrew Muir suggested I created my own 1984 and TwentyFortySeven was born. This time there was a Deaf government in control and speech was banned! Everyone had to know sign language and the character Ruth gave lessons to Dan so that his signing skills improved. Eventually Dan was caught for talking by the Government Official Person, GOP, and had his voice box permanently removed.

The full length version of TwentyFortySeven have the same characters plus an additional one. I won’t spoil it but it has changed drastically from the short one. Don’t worry, a Deaf government are still in control!

Anyway I digress. Isn’t it funny how you sometimes have the best laid plans but certain events change the course of it to where you were perhaps meant to be all along?

I for one am grateful to have seen Deafinitely Theatre’s 2011 4play production. If I hadn’t I probably wouldn’t be in this position today starting my career in writing.

Lianne Herbert won a place on the ‘Deafinitely Theatre Creative Competition 2011’.  Since then she has written two short plays called ‘TwentyFortySeven’ and ‘The Door’ which both have been performed at RADA Studios and The Park Theatre. ‘TwentyFortySeven’ has been written into a full-length play, a rehearsed reading should take place next year. Lianne is currently working on her debut novella with a working title of ‘That Weird Deaf Girl Over There.’

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