Lincoln Drill Hall is to introduce sign language into this year’s pantomime as part of an initiative to make their shows more accessible.
The production of Peter Pan will run from 7 December until 5 January, with three of the performances being signed.
Australian actress, Philippa Russel, who will be playing Tinker Bell, is deaf and is going to be using sign language to communicate with the audience and other characters.
Philippa is currently the first deaf student to enrol on the Creative Arts Drama course at Deakin University in Australia. She said: “This is my first ever pantomime. I’m really excited to be taking to the stage and getting to know my fellow cast and crew members over the next month. I can’t wait to teach everyone British Sign Language.”
Earlier this year, research by the Consortium for Research in Deaf Education found that in the past seven years, teachers for deaf children have been cut by 14 percent while the number of deaf children have increased by 31 percent.
There are over 45,000 deaf children living in the UK who rely on British Sign Language (BSL) and the show gives children with hearing impairments a chance to share a ‘secret language’ with Tinker Bell.
Sarah Boweth, Secretary from Lincoln Deaf Children’s Society, said: “It’s going to open a lot more doors for both adults and children who have hearing impairments of many kinds.
“I think this is a brilliant idea. Children today are being taught with more sign language around them, even if a child has a slight hearing impairment, they will be able to understand the story a lot more.”
This will be the first year Lincoln Drill Hall introduces sign language in their pantomime and the audience will also have a chance to to learn some BSL as part of the show.
Philippa will be joined on stage by Luke Haywood as Peter Pan, Lincoln actress Ellie Pickering as Wendy Darling and West End star Stephen John Davis as Captain Hook, who will also be using sign language during the performance.
The non-profit arts centre based in the centre of Lincoln also offers autism friendly shows and hosts The Butterfly Club which is Lincolnshire’s only nightclub for adults with disabilities.
A percentage of all ticket sales from this year’s pantomime will go towards the Great Ormond Street Hospital children’s charity who have partnered with the James Marcus Production of Peter Pan..