A visually impaired actor touring with the Royal Shakespeare Company has become the first in the organisation’s history to cover a lead sighted role.
Karina Jones, who is touring with the RSC’s production of As You Like It, stepped in to play Jaques on press night at Theatre Royal Nottingham, when Sophie Stanton, who was due to play the role, was indisposed.
The company used its scheduled tech session at Theatre Royal Nottingham to enable Jones to rehearse and ensure she thoroughly knew her routes around the stage.
Jones, who usually plays Martext in the production, said: “When I was asked to understudy Jaques I hoped I would get on to perform the role in front of an audience. My fellow cast members have all been unbelievably helpful and supportive in general but particularly when I have been going on in the role of Jaques.
“As I’ve had very little time to learn my track, they have been assisting me in navigating my way around the stage. They have embraced the experience and I’m very thankful for that.”
She said she hoped the RSC’s casting choices would “set a good example for the rest of the industry and show that disabled actors are just as capable of performing lead roles in major productions”.
She played the role on February 27, 28 and 29.
Jones is part of a 27-strong touring company, performing three RSC shows. The company comprises a 50/50 gender balance and both disabled and non-disabled actors.
Last year, deaf actor Charlotte Arrowsmith understudied the role of Vincentia in The Taming of the Shrew, becoming the first in the company’s history to cover a hearing principal.