Bristol Old Vic champions D/deaf artists with two brand-new pieces of theatre this May

This month, Bristol Old Vic welcomes ground-breaking companies Mr and Mrs Clark and Deafinitely Theatre into the Weston Studio to raise awareness and challenge perceptions of hearing loss and deafness.

The Weston Studio marks the penultimate stop on Mr and Mrs Clark’s UK-wide tour of Louder is Not Always Clearer, a story of disconnection, difference and desperation to belong. Created and performed by deaf performer Jonny Cotsen it plays from 13 – 15 May, and marks the conclusion of the UK Council on Deafness’ Deaf Awareness Week (6 – 12 May), a UK-wide series of national and local events to raise awareness of the needs of the 1 in 6 deaf or hard of hearing people in the UK.

The play centres on teacher, father and artist Jonny Cotsen. Jonny is deaf and shares his story through a moving, passionate multimedia performance, explaining how he negotiates life as a deaf man in a hearing world.

For a hearing audience it is an illuminating and emotional experience. For deaf audience members, the show is a familiar tale of misunderstanding and isolation. For everyone it is a humorous moving story of one man’s attempt to belong.

The show is accessible to D/deaf, hard of hearing and hearing audiences through the use of spoken English, British Sign Language and creative captions.

Later this month, Deafinitely Theatre and Birmingham Stage Company will present the world premiere of Horrible Histories – Dreadful Deaf – Live On Stage! (29 May – 1 June). Birmingham Stage Company have produced Horrible Histories live on stage across the UK and throughout the world since 2005 and have now teamed up with Deafinitely Theatre to create the first dedicated production for deaf children and their families.

The show will open in Bristol Old Vic’s Weston Studio before heading on tour to York Theatre Royal, Stratford Circus Arts Centre, The North Wall and the Derby Theatre.

Horrible Histories will delve into the dreadful, dangerous and deluded stories of the deaf – from groovy Greeks to gorgeous Georgians, ruthless Romans to vile Victorians. The bilingual production is suitable for both D/deaf and hearing audiences and features spoken English and British Sign Language.

Deafinitely Theatre’s Artistic Director and Horrible Histories Director Paula Garfield (4.48 Psychosis), said:

A few years ago I watched my deaf children reading and enjoying Horrible Histories and I was struck by the thought that it would be wonderful for them to have a ‘Deaf Horrible Histories’, showcasing the stories, culture and communities of deaf people throughout history. I also wanted to ensure that D/deaf children today, whether signing or non-signing, can understand the history of their community and feel a sense of belonging and legacy. Horrible Histories is a fun, exciting way to learn and our bilingual production is designed for all to enjoy.”