Arts & Culture

Deaf and disabled ‘shut out of theatre press nights’

Friday 13 May
Deaf and disabled ‘shut out of theatre press nights’

- May 13 at 8:32 AM

Theatre director Jenny Sealey has claimed deaf and disabled theatre workers are shut out of press nights because they are not fully accessible.

Speaking at the Theatre 2016 conference, the Graeae artistic director revealed several delegates based in London had asked her to attend the opening night of their shows.

She said, “I’ve been invited to three different press nights and I’m not going to be able to go, because none of those press nights are signed or captioned – because they’re press nights and they don’t want to ‘ruin it for the press’.”

Jenny hailed the current touring production of The Government Inspector – which stars a number of disabled actors – as an example of a show that is signed and captioned for deaf audiences.

“But how are deaf and disabled people supposed to network if we don’t have that opportunity to go to those press nights and meet the great and the good?” she asked.

“You need to include us in every area of the sector, and when we’re fully embedded within that – producers, stage managers, lighting, all of it – then we can be much more proactive and change the DNA of an organisation.”

She also criticised one conference attendee who suggested that there were certain ‘sorts’ of plays that were better suited to deaf and disabled actors.

She explained, “Another thing that really f-ing riled me is that someone said to me: ‘Jenny, what’s the right sort of play for deaf and disabled actors to be in?’”

“Any play, for God’s sake,” she scoffed. “Any play.”

Jenny was discussing how fundamental changes could be made to the sector alongside a panel including Equity general secretary Christine Payne and Spotlight’s head of client relations Pippa Harrison.

Article source: David Hutchison
Photo caption: Jenny Sealey at Theatre 2016. Photo: Alex Brenner