Honor Hoskins: Why Vamos Theatre creates mime performances for Deaf and hearing audiences to enjoy

Posted on February 17, 2016

Vamos Theatre is the UK’s leading full mask company, touring wordless, visual theatre nationally and internationally. I have been with the company for eight years and had many different hats from an actor/practitioner to General Manager. I now juggle Vamos’ Marketing and Development with raising a very lively two year old.

Whilst Vamos doesn’t make work specifically for the Deaf audience we have found that audiences can fully access the work without an interpreter. The journey of Vamos connecting with Deaf audiences started in Dudley Social Club on a cold blustery evening in October 2010.


Our show Much Ado about Wenlock was booked for Dudley Deaf Theatre, of which 100 members showed up. As an actor I remember vividly at the end of the show removing my mask to the audience standing and waving two hands at me. I now know this is sign language for clapping, but I was somewhat baffled on that autumnal evening five and a half years ago!

We have always maintained the connection with Dudley Deaf Theatre working with them and Black Country Touring to book our shows into Black Country venues.

However for our current production, The Best Thing, Vamos has been working in consultation with deaf arts practitioners and interpreters including: Emily Howlett and Lara Steward from PAD Productions, Sarah Gatford, Interpreter, Aimee Cockle and Katherene Borland – Multi-Duo, Mary-Jayne Russell de Clifford – DeDrama Theatre and actors Steve Collins, Sami Thorpe and Alix Adams.

We have invited our consultants into the rehearsal room, asked them review our marketing material and participate in trial workshops so we can constantly get feedback on how we can make Vamos, as a whole, more accessible to deaf audiences.

Oh boy, we have learnt a lot! We have not learnt sign language (yet) but are embracing changes in our workshops and marketing. We have a new BSL flyer for The Best Thing and workshop designed for deaf participants.

But our biggest discovery is that deaf participants naturally have strong mask skills because they have to communicate with clarity and directness in every day life. These two qualities in deaf communication are innate to mask work which means deaf participants tend to have a natural talent for this art form.

Vamos Theatre is very proud to be making quality theatre for hearing and deaf audiences alike and long may it continue. We already have plans in the pipeline for the next two years about expanding our accessibility, so please watch this space

Vamos Theatre’s The Best Thing is touring the UK until July 2016. For information and tour dates please visit: http://www.vamostheatre.co.uk/shows/the-best-thing

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