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New Horrible Histories first dedicated show for deaf children

Published: 1 February 2019
Reporter: Steve Orme

Deafinitely Theatre and Birmingham Stage Company are teaming up for the world première of the next in the Horrible Histories series, Dreadful Deaf which is “deafinitely not for the faint-hearted”.

Birmingham Stage Company has produced Horrible Histories on stage since 2005 and with Deafinitely Theatre is creating the first dedicated production for deaf children and their families.

Deafinitely Theatre’s artistic director Paula Garfield directs and reunites her creative team from Deafinitely’s 2018 production of Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis.

Garfield said, “a few years ago I watched my deaf children reading and enjoying Horrible Histories and I was struck by the thought that it would be wonderful for them to have a Deaf Horrible Histories, showcasing the stories, culture and communities of deaf people throughout history.

“I also wanted to ensure that deaf children today, whether signing or non-signing, can understand the history of their community and feel a sense of belonging and legacy. Horrible Histories is a fun, exciting way to learn and our bilingual production is designed for all to enjoy.”

Birmingham Stage Company actor-manager Neal Foster commented, “when Deafinitely Theatre approached me with the idea of creating a new show specifically for deaf children, I jumped at the chance.

“One of the joys of creating Horrible Histories stage shows is going through the learning experience yourself, so not only did I think this was a fantastic idea for a show but I was also excited to learn the history of deaf people through the lens of Horrible Histories. It’s proved to be as exciting as I first imagined and we can’t wait to share the show with deaf and hearing people—it’s a fascinating subject for theatre.”

There will be a schools’ performance of Dreadful Deaf at Heathlands School, St Albans on 24 May. The show opens at Bristol Old Vic Theatre from Monday 29 May until Saturday 12 June. It then tours to York Theatre Royal on 7 and 8 June, The North Wall, Oxford on 18 June before completing its run at Derby Theatre on Saturday and Sunday, 22 and 23 June. Further dates and casting will be announced.