Graeae Theatre Company

Finalist category: Arts and Culture Award

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Arts and Culture Award, Finalist, 2020

Graeae Theatre Company exists to cultivate the talent of both established and early career D/deaf and disabled artists. Graeae Theatre Company champions the inclusion of D/deaf and disabled people in the arts through:

  • Intensive actor and writer training initiatives
  • Access to support for creative and learning situations
  • Empowering workshops and training programmes for young artists which are led by inspiring role models
  • Providing a range of training models for the creative sector – from inclusive practice for drama schools, through to accessible e-marketing for theatre venues.

Since the COVID-19 lockdown began, the team have put together an extensive and eclectic programme of digital activity to help keep D/deaf and disabled audiences entertained, educated, engaged and feeling supported. 

As part of the programme, Graeae released “Reasons to be Cheerful” and “The House of Bernarda Alba” – both full length productions that were audio described, captioned and free of charge. In addition, the team has been running a major new programme of engagement called “Crips without Constraints”. The initiative includes the release of 11 monologues written and performed by Deaf and disabled artists, British Sign Language interpreted podcasts from the ‘Disability And…’ series, and weekly pictures from Graeae archive (each with audio description available for the benefit of blind and visually impaired people). During lockdown Graeae found that there has been very little content released from businesses that is accessible to D/deaf people, so by providing this service it gives D/deaf and disabled people some inclusive entertainment. 

As well as releasing full length productions, Graeae have continued to run its Ensemble programme which is a training course for young D/deaf and disabled artists. During lockdown, Graeae delivered weekly digital workshops in wellbeing and theatre-making, culminating in a digital presentation.

In addition to the content, training and programmes, the team also compiled an extensive list of support resources for D/deaf and disabled people during the pandemic. These include links to sources of funding and resources to aid mental health. 

The team have strived to deliver the highest quality of work digitally, and the result is a well received programme that has been viewed by over 19,000 people in less than three-months, with 83% of the traffic to the Graeae website (which has over 20,000 users) from new visitors.

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