Sheffield Theatres is to stage a production of My Mother Said I Never Should, which has been translated into British Sign Language and will be performed by a cast including three Deaf actors.
The sign language version of Charlotte Keatley’s play will premiere at Sheffield’s Studio Theatre, running from November 12 to 23.
Keatley, who has been involved in the production, said: “I think it’s really important to be continually looking at theatre language in every sense and how we can expand it. This [production] is an important experiment because if it works, it will show this is a way to do any play – any classic play – with Deaf actors.”
She added: “This production is about how can we [stage] this so that the Deaf actors carry the play, but also how can we can make it accessible to all people, which challenges how accessible theatre is to all kinds of people.”
The play, which explores mother-and-daughter relationships over four generations, includes three Deaf and one hearing actor, using a mixture of spoken, captioned and signed communication.
The production is co-produced by Sheffield Theatres and Fingersmiths, a visual physical theatre company that performs plays in BSL and English, using Deaf and hearing actors.
Company founder and play director Jeni Draper said the company wanted to explore “different ways of presenting sign language on stage with spoken or written English […] aiming for equality of both languages on stage”.
“At the time [of starting the company] there was little on offer for Deaf audiences and Deaf actors had very few opportunities to perform, especially if their preferred language was BSL,” she said.
Following its run at the Crucible, the show will tour the UK in 2020, performing at venues including the Lowry in Salford.