Deaf News: Deaf actress Sophie Stone searches for next generation of deaf actors, musicians and dancers (BSL)

Posted on January 18, 2016

Dr Who actress Sophie Stone is helping the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) encourage young deaf actors, musicians and dancers to showcase their performance skills and enter Raising the Bar, a music, dance and drama competition which launches today.

Raising the Bar was developed last year by NDCS to make dance and music more accessible for the 45,000 deaf children and young people in the UK. This year they have added acting to the range of performing arts skills.

It aims to increase the levels of deaf awareness through the arts, whilst also raising the expectations and standards of what deaf children, young people and professionals believe they can achieve.

Entrants to the competition(8 – 18 year olds) will have six weeks from today until 6 March 2016, to create and submit a video of themselves performing a dance, drama or music routine. Twenty-four lucky winners will be selected by NDCS staff and leading deaf professionals from the arts industry, and invited to attend a two-day masterclass on 18-19 June 2016.

Masterclass training sessions will be led by Mark Smith, acclaimed deaf choreographer and artistic director of the all-male dance company Deaf Men Dancing, deaf actress Charly Arrowsmith who runs Deafinitely Theatre’s youth projects, and Danny Lane from ‘Music and the Deaf’, a unique charity working to ensure everyone has the opportunity to enjoy music.

The weekend will culminate in a live showcase of the newly found Raising the Bar stars, at Mac Birmingham, demonstrating exactly what deaf children and young people can achieve.

Sophie Stone, who was the first deaf student at one of the leading acting schools, RADA, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be launching NDCS’s ‘Raising the Bar’ competition. When I was young I always loved acting and I am so glad that deaf children and young people will get the chance to build on their skills and self-confidence in drama, dance or music.

“It’s so important that deaf children and young people get the same opportunities and support to get into the performing arts. For me, going to RADA was a wonderful experience which has led me onto playing some fantastic roles on TV and in the theatre.

“Raising the Bar’ will also demonstrate to the arts industry that making dance, drama and music accessible for everyone is so valuable. I really want all budding deaf actors, musicians and dancers to give it a go, send in their videos and get involved!”

Bryony Parkes, Inclusive Activities Implementation Manager for NDCS said:  “Deaf children can do anything other children can do, given the right support.  Raising the Bar is all about participation and raising expectations to show that deaf children and young people absolutely can perform to the same high standards as their hearing peers.

“Participation in the arts gives deaf children and young people the chance to learn new skills and feel more confident. We will also be encouraging arts professionals to look at our website which has resources for them to use to include deaf children and young people in their music, dance and drama activities.”

Adam Butler won a place on last year’s competition for his drumming and went onto play in a children’s music group (Yorkshire Music Club) for people who are hard of hearing with the Halifax-based charity Music and the Deaf. He said “I was so excited when I found out I won a place on last year’s Raising the Bar completion. I learnt so much from the masterclass and now I want to become a music teacher when I’m older.”

To sign up to the competition and see Sophie’s launch video visit: The Buzz

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