TODAY saw the launch of the first ever Edinburgh Deaf Festival, with a programme of more than 100 performances over eight days.
Among those at the launch were the award-winning mime artist DeafMimo, Mae Al-Kalamchi from the children’s magic show Once Upon A raindrop and comedian Gavin Lilley.
They were joined by deaf actor, BSL user and Festival Ambassador Nadia Nadarajah, who has performed worldwide and appeared in multiple TV and theatre productions.
Nothing quite like it has been staged before in the UK and Edinburgh-based charity Deaf Action, which is organising the festival, hopes it will bring deaf talent and culture into the mainstream.
The whole event, which runs until Friday 19 August, is designed to appeal to deaf and hearing audiences alike.
Gavin said: “It’s an honour to have been asked to come to Edinburgh to take part in the festival. I’m really looking forward to sharing my experiences of navigating the hearing world. I hope my show will give people some insights, perhaps a little education – but above everything else that it will entertain.”
Once Upon A Raindrop is a walk-through experience especially for children. Mae said: “We are very much looking forward to welcoming audiences to see Once Upon a Raindrop – it’s an amazing show and will be huge fun for children.”
DeafMimo (aka Stephen Robinson) is renowned for his comical movement, funny facial expressions, which delight children and adults alike in his family-friendly show.
He said: “Mime is much more embedded in the deaf than the hearing community, and I’m hoping to take it to the widest possible audience. This is my first time in Edinburgh, and being here for the festival is very exciting.”
Edinburgh Deaf Festival is being run alongside the Fringe and is supported by the Edinburgh Fringe Society.
Deaf Action is also making Fringe shows more accessible through a variety of initiatives including the piloting of an interpreter on demand service.
This will allow deaf people to choose the performances they want to see, when they want to see them. It will start small and hopefully grow in the years ahead.
Nadia said: “I’m honoured to be the Ambassador for the Edinburgh Deaf Festival – it is special to me as a deaf actor and creative artist. It’s important to recognise deaf works in the arts world.
“This festival is for everyone and will bring communities together, showcasing the best in deaf talent and our rich deaf culture. We can’t wait to celebrate this together.”
Deaf Action Chief Executive Philip Gerrard said: “This has been three years in the planning, so it’s great that it’s finally here. I’ve been watching the rehearsals and that’s made me even more excited about what’s to come.
“We’re really looking forward to putting on great shows for audiences, and also to providing opportunities for deaf performers – giving them the chance to entertain at the first festival of its kind to be held in Scotland.”
Other highlights include:
- Perspectives with Gavin Lilley: International standup Gavin Lilley shares his experiences as a deaf person navigating a hearing world.
- SPILL YOUR DRINK: Deaf cabaret from Glasgow’s Solar Bear theatre company which works with deaf and hearing actors, theatre makers, artists and young people.
- The Funny Punny Magic Show: with the acclaimed Tricky Ricky.
- Once Upon A Raindrop: Cheerful, funny, magic show for toddlers with a walkthrough performance with sensory games and magic tricks.
- Deaf Rave – deaf DJs rave in an underground car park in the St James’ Quarter.
- Deaf Karaoke – a night of singing, laughing and signing.
- Improv Comedy Show – improvised comedy with Moira Ross, Craig McCulloch, Connor Bryson, Amy Murray, and Matthew Gurney (MC).
- The Coat – A screening and Q&A of the Royal Conservatoire of Edinburgh’s 2021 production based on Nikolai Gogol’s The Overcoat.
Edinburgh Deaf Festival will also feature tours, workshops and book clubs. There will be an exhibition and a screening as part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022, which has been designed to spotlight, celebrate and promote the wealth of deaf-led stories inspired by, written, or created in Scotland.
Performances will include a mix of deaf and hearing artists. All will be interpreted and captioned – and will be inclusive for hearing people as well as the deaf.
Programme and tickets are available through the Edinburgh Fringe box office at https://www.edfringe.com
See also the Edinburgh Deaf Festival website at https://edinburghdeaffestival.co.uk
About Deaf Action
- Deaf Action is a deaf-led charity based in Edinburgh, supporting people in Scotland and the South of England – see https://www.deafaction.org
- Founded in 1835 it is the world’s oldest deaf charity and the first formally constituted deaf organisation.
- It exists to support the diversity of deaf people, including deaf users of British Sign Language (BSL), and those who are deafened, deafblind or hard of hearing.
- Deaf Action’s work is geared towards empowering all deaf people to achieve their potential and fully participate in society, with equality of rights, access and opportunity.
- Almost half of the staff are deaf, and many more have grown up with deaf parents or siblings. Deaf Action truly understand the challenges deaf people face, and believes that its collective experience allows it to honestly position itself as having the expertise to unlock deaf people’s potential.