The Cast Theatre in Doncaster is today announcing that its annual pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, will this year feature fully integrated British Sign Language in every performance allowing more local Deaf people to enjoy this Christmas tradition together as a family – in what will be a UK first for a mainstream pantomime production.
Home to the UK’s largest Deaf community outside of London, Doncaster’s pantomime will feature a character called Fairy Fingers, who will translate the spoken script and all the songs into BSL.
Fairy Fingers is one half of Jack and the Beanstalk’s magical storytelling fairy team and will be played by Becky Barry, an actor-musician who is also a fully qualified British Sign Language Interpreter.
Becky Barry is working with the creative team and the local Deaf community to make BSL an integral part of Cast’s Jack and the Beanstalk production. Barry joins the Jack and the Beanstalk team at Cast following the hugely successful tour of Ramp On The Moon’s The Government Inspector that contained creative use of audio description and British sign Language in all performances.
A theatre trip to see the local pantomime is one of the highlights of many families Christmas season but often for families with Deaf family members there is only one BSL interpreted show to choose from despite the long run of performances.
Although nine out of every ten Deaf children are born to hearing parents, only one in 10 parents learn sign language. By making Jack and the Beanstalk fully BSL integrated, Cast is ensuring that Deaf audiences and their families can enjoy a trip to the theatre together, whichever performance they prefer.
Mathew Russell, Cast’s interim Executive Director said:
‘We’ve seen the popularity of our family Christmas pantomime grow year on year and with over 16,500 tickets already sold, panto is the biggest show of the year. We’re so proud that through Jack and the Beanstalk, even more members of Doncaster and Yorkshire’s Deaf community will be able to enjoy a magical theatre trip to Cast this Christmas.’
Bobbie Roberts, chair of trustees to Doncaster Deaf Trust said:
‘It is fantastic news for our children, pupils, students and staff that Cast’s innovative Jack and the Beanstalk pantomime will be performed with British Sign Language interpreters giving Deaf people greater access to this Christmas cultural experience. We’d like to see more theatres taking this approach and introduce British Sign Language performances to more of their events.’
Jenny Sealey MBE, Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre Company and co-artistic director ofLondon 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony added:
‘This is a fantastic venture which means Deaf people and their families can see the panto when they want to! So often it tends to be BSL interpreted very early on in the run or in Jan so this feels like real equality – the way it should be of course! ’
Jack and the Beanstalk is on at Cast in Doncaster from Friday 2 to Saturday 31 December and tickets are available from Box Office on 01302 303 959 or online at castindoncaster.com.
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
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