Taking Flight launches Wales’ first youth theatre company for deaf performers
14 February 2020
Reporter: Othniel Smith
The official launch of Taking Flight Youth Theatre took place on February 13 at host venue, the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff.
Building on Taking Flight’s reputation for creating high-quality theatre inclusive of deaf, disabled and non-disabled actors and audiences (such as 2019’s successful tour of Kaite O’Reilly’s Peeling), the venture has been several years in the making. Speaking at the launch event, Sarah Merry, Deputy Leader of Cardiff Council, spoke briefly about the importance of the arts to the young in terms both of enjoyment and the development of vital skills.
Taking Flight’s Development Director Beth House thanked BBC Children In Need and The Ashley Family Foundation, whose financial support means that participation is free. She noted that as well as weekly sessions at the Centre (catering to three age groups: 4 to 7, 8 to 11 and 12 to 18), they hope to arrange theatre trips to enable members to see deaf performers in action on the professional stage, as well as inviting deaf guest speakers who are working in other professions within the performing arts (e.g. combat, dance, make-up) to address the group. The company is open to participants from all over Wales and the West of England.
Youth Theatre Leader Steph Back, who is herself deaf and has appeared in several Taking Flight productions, spoke about her experience of working with the company’s first members over the past few weeks, and noted their increased confidence (borne out by informal contributions from some young performers who were in attendance).
Artistic Director Elise Davison reflected on the length of time it has taken to get the new company off the ground, and expressed excitement in respect of future developments.