A celebration of diversity as groundbreaking actors prepare to make their mark on the industry

A celebration of diversity as groundbreaking actors prepare to make their mark on the industry

Published: 08/05/2018

They are the actors breaking down barriers in the performing arts.

Ten trailblazing students will make history when they graduate from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in July as the first cohort of the UK’s only performance degree for D/deaf actors.

However, before they embark on their professional journeys, they will take to the stage for the final time at Scotland’s national conservatoire. The pioneering BA Performance in British Sign Language and English programme will premiereLast Woman Leftfrom May 8 to 12, a gripping new drama that blends BSL and English.

Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland“In July, these groundbreaking new artists will graduate into the professional world one that continues to search for representation and diversity on its stages and screens. This is a pivotal moment, not only for our students but for the industry as a whole.

“As the first dedicated conservatoire degree programme for D/deaf performers in the UK, it has been wonderful to work with this history-making cohort over the last three years and to watch them grow and develop as actors and performance makers. They are so exciting as artists and we will miss their energy. However, we’re looking forward to seeing the positive impact they’ll have on the arts and the legacy they’ll create.”

The three-year BA Performance in British Sign Language and English undergraduate degree programme was established in 2015 in association with Glasgow-based Solar Bear theatre company with input from a range of theatre, education and D/deaf professionals.

Claire Lamont, Head of the BA Performance in British Sign Language and English programme , said: “It has been amazing to work this extraordinary group of students over the last three years and to see them grow in confidence as performers they have been a joy to teach.

“They have shown the creative possibilities that exist when working between British Sign Language and English. The ten students all use British Sign Language four have it as a first language, five have English as a first language and one has Romanian Sign Language as a first language. It has been exhilarating to be part of their artistic process and we are looking forward to seeing them change the industry. Students have been offered representation by agents and others are interested in pursuing their own work. There has been a terrific buzz surrounding them.”

Devised for this graduating cohort,Last Woman Lefttells the story of a community under threat. Flood warnings have been issued and the government is urging an immediate evacuation. But as panic rises, one woman refuses to leave. She suspects that the government isn’t telling them the truth. It asks audiences to consider who we can trust and when we should make a stand against those in authority.

The second cohort of the BA Performance in British Sign Language and English degree programme will begin their studies in September this year.

Claire added: “The course teaches students to be both actors and makers of work, exploring innovative ways of creating performance through BSL and English. Students have fully-qualified BSL interpreters in class, on stage and in rehearsal. It’s exciting making work across both languages and it’s the variety of the students, and the languages, which makes what they create so unique.”

Last Woman Left: 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 May, Chandler Studio Theatre, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, 100 Renfrew Street. Tickets are available fromwww.rcs.ac.uk/boxoffice

Find out more about the first cohort of the BA Performance in British Sign Language and English in this video:www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtPq9ng0vC4

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