Lincoln Drill Hall is to introduce sign language into this year’s pantomime as part of a new scheme to make their shows more accessible for children living with hearing impairments.
The production of Peter Pan will be running from December until January, and three of the shows will be performed with sign language. The Drill Hall are also doing a ‘relaxed’ show after Christmas, which is an autistic friendly showing of the production with dimmed lighting and lowered sound.
Actress Phillipa Russel, who is cast as Tinker Belle, is deaf and wants to use sign language to communicate with the audience during the show and also wants to spread awareness and teach others sign language.
Phillipa said: “This is my first ever pantomime, I’m really excited to be taking to the stage and I can’t wait to teach everyone British Sign Language.
“Tinkerbell is so cheeky and happy. BSL fits in perfectly to my role, I am able to sing and communicate with facial expressions.”
Casey Wells, production assistant for Lincoln Drill Hall said: “Phillipa uses sign language to communicate because she is deaf, and this will work brilliantly for our show.
“She will be using British Sign Language (BSL) and facial expressions to communicate instead, so that everyone can enjoy our pantomime. We want our audience to get involved and learn more about BSL.”
According to a survey completed by the Consortium for Research in Deaf Education there are around 40 thousand deaf children living in England who rely on British Sign Language to communicate with others.
Writer and director Julie Fox said: “Having Phillipa sign her part really works well, it comes across completely natural for the role of Tinkerbell. Even though she is singing you can understand what she is ‘saying’.”
It is the 11thannual Jamie Marcus production pantomime at the Drill Hall, and every year they have two performances that include BSL, and an autism friendly production. However, Peter Pan is the first pantomime where a deaf actress has been cast as a principle actress.
Ella Crossley, whose daughter is partially deaf, will be attending the pantomime. She said: “It is so refreshing to see a professional company incorporate sign language into a show. Tinkerbell is such an important role too and to have a deaf woman playing the character sends out a lovely message to people such as my daughter.
“My daughter is so excited to be able to attend and see one of her favourite characters communicate with her. Hopefully this will inspire more companies to make their shows available to those with hearing impairments.”
Tickets can be purchased from the Drill Hall box office on 01522 73894 and ticket prices start from £12.