‘My Hands my Heart’ premieres at Playhouse

Finalising some of the scenes are, from left, Marian Lewis, SEP Project Co-Ordinator, Sharon McLennan, Education Officer, Playhouse and Stephanie O'Kane, SEP Co-Ordinator. 1902JM08
Finalising some of the scenes are, from left, Marian Lewis, SEP Project Co-Ordinator, Sharon McLennan, Education Officer, Playhouse and Stephanie O'Kane, SEP Co-Ordinator. 1902JM08

In what organisers believe was a theatrical first for Europe, members of the Royal National Institute of Blind People along with participants from Action Hearing Loss captivated an audience at Derry’s Playhouse this week.

The Tuesday afternoon event was aptly entitled ‘My Hands My Heart’ and it brought everyone who came to see the unique event on a humorous and emotional journey during the Valentine’s Day performance.

It used a combination of audio description, Sign Language and a number of other methods. Playhouse Education Officer Sharon McLennan said the production had been a collaborative effort.

“What has made the performance unique is that the performances were transcribed by a range of interpretative media simultaneously. Methods used included Signing (British and Irish Sign Language), Audio Description, Captioning and Re-Speaking. It is believed that this will be the European Premiere for Re-speaking in a theatrical context and it will be a world premiere for the simultaneous use of the various methodologies.”

Anne McMaster of North West Regional College, who facilitated the drama workshops with a group of participants from Action on Hearing Loss, said: “The drama performances in My Hands My Heart reflect the life experiences and the creative thoughts of the students in this new dramatic arena. Some sketches are a comic reflection of shared human experiences and hark back to the early days of mime - these sketches draw on the students’ superb use of body language.

“Other performance pieces are highly personal, thought-provoking and moving ideas generated by the students, sharing and describing their world as deaf actors/performers. This is an important new forum for these deaf actors - they have learned the craft of devising theatre, the discipline of rehearsal and the challenges inherent within a performance to a live audience.”

Running parallel to the Action on Hearing Loss Drama Group was a group of adults from RNIB NI.

Shauna Kelpie of North West Regional College added; “The drama performances of the sight loss and blind group, simply entitled My Life, describe some pivotal and life changing moments in the life of someone living with blindness and sight loss.

“The stories are deeply personal and are told with incredible honesty, tenderness and dignity.

See Sunday’s Journal for full pictorial coverage of Tuesday’s event.