Jungle Book to be first Derby Theatre show with integrated BSL

Published: 29 March 2019

Neil Duffield’s The Jungle Book, which is inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s stories, will be Derby Theatre’s first in-house production with fully integrated BSL interpretation and captioning.

Associate director Emily Howlett says this is “incredibly exciting” for her as a deaf theatre-maker and audience member.

“As much as I love an interpreter, I’d always rather watch a play as it happens onstage rather than a single-person translation taking place so far from the action it may as well be in the next town.

“It’s become clear in the rehearsal room that The Jungle Book is going to showcase a whole host of visual communication: BSL, gesture, universal sign, good old physical storytelling—you name it, we’re using it.

“As a society, and particularly in the deaf community, we all naturally communicate in so many different ways and having the opportunity to show that variety on stage is just fantastic.”

“Clearly, we wouldn’t be able to even attempt such a big project without a supportive, hard-working and open-minded team. We’ve also got 30 community cast members alongside the 10 actors in the cast. As well as acting, some of these guys are signing, some are singing, some are playing musical instruments. It’s fair to say they’re a multi-talented bunch and we’re making them prove it!”

The cast features Iniki Mariano (Mowgli), Elliott Rennie (Shere Khan), Ivan Stott (Baloo and composer), Esme Sears (Bagheera), Dominic Rye (Akela and Sergeant Major), Becky Barry (Cobra), Oraine Johnson (Chill), Caroline Parker (Tabaqui), Emily Rose-Salter (Raksa) and Alexandra James.

Derby Theatre’s artistic director Sarah Brigham directs. Design is by Ali Allen. Jon Beney is movement director and creative BSL consultant is Daryl Jackson.

The Jungle Book runs at Derby Theatre from Friday 5 until Saturday 20 April.

Steve Orme