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Doncaster theatre aims for UK first with sign language panto character

A scene from Sleeping Beauty, Cast Doncaster's 2015 pantomime. Photo: Alex and Janet Durasow A scene from Sleeping Beauty, Cast Doncaster's 2015 pantomime. Photo: Alex and Janet Durasow
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A pantomime in Doncaster is to feature a character who will provide sign language at every performance, in what is being hailed as a UK first.

Deaf theatregoers will have full access to every Jack and the Beanstalk show at Cast thanks to one character, Fairy Fingers, who will translate the script and all the songs into British Sign Language.

Producers claim it will be the first time such a decision has been made by a mainstream pantomime.

A spokesman said theatres often only staged one BSL-interpreted show for families with Deaf family members “despite the long run of performances”.

He continued: “By making Jack and the Beanstalk fully BSL-integrated, Cast is ensuring that Deaf audiences and their families can enjoy a trip to the theatre together, whichever performance they prefer.”

Fairy Fingers will be played by Becky Barry, an actor and musician who is also a qualified BSL interpreter.

Leading deaf theatremaker Jenny Sealey was among those to praise the decision to use Barry’s sign language skills in the show.

The Graeae artistic director said: “This is a fantastic venture that means Deaf people and their families can see the panto when they want to.”

She also claimed that BSL-interpreted shows were often one-offs and very early in a pantomime’s run, adding: “So this feels like real equality – the way it should be, of course.”

Doncaster is home to one of the largest Deaf communities in the UK outside London.

Bobbie Roberts, who chairs the Doncaster Deaf Trust, called on theatres across the UK to follow Cast’s lead.

“We’d like to see more theatres taking this approach and introduce British Sign Language performances to more of their events,” he said.

Jack and the Beanstalk will run at Cast from December 2 to 31.

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