Meet: Robert Softley Gale, co-director of Soho Theatre’s Wendy Hoose, about sexuality and disability

Posted on April 15, 2016

Soho Theatre’s Wendy Hoose has been gaining plaudits from Deaf theatregoers. Here, co-director Robert Softley Gale tells us about creating it.

You’ve directed Wendy Hoose – what inspired you to create it?

Wendy Hoose was my first production for Birds of Paradise so I knew it had to make a big impression. Comedy and disabled actors don’t usually go together so that seemed like a perfect way to go.

We then got together with Random Accomplice, a Scottish touring company renowned for making fantastic comedy, to make this coproduction.

Johnny from RA and I then bounced ideas around for quite a while – I think we both kept pushing the other to “go further”, which resulted in a show that really pushes audiences while making them weep with laughter.

It includes access techniques as part of the narrative – is it fully accessible to a deaf audience, and how have you achieved this?

Part of BOP’s ‘thing’ is to make our work as accessible as possible – so Wendy Hoose incorporates audio description, BSL and captioning into every production.

Without giving too much away, the audio describer is a character that the whole audience hears – she’s much more opinionated than most ADs!

The BSL interpreter appears on a TV screen inside our bedroom – and the captioning is created in the style of texting – with emoticons and other such modern things!

Has the response surprised you?

Yes – in a great way. Audiences just love having a good laugh – at la performance in Stirling two years ago we had 700+ ‘older’ people laughing uproariously for the whole show.

If you’d asked most of them to come as see a show by a disabled theatre company, they’d have run a mile – but after that night they were converted.

Wendy Hoose is at Soho Theatre from 12th April – 7th May 2016.
Tickets from £10:

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Posted in: interviews