Free Courses Offer Deaf And Disabled Artists Exclusive Theatre Industry Access

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New courses for deaf and disabled artists at Leeds Playhouse and Sheffield Theatres. Photography by Antony Robling

Deaf and disabled artists interested in pursuing careers in directing, producing and writing are being given an exciting insight into the theatre industry.

Leeds Playhouse and Sheffield Theatres are joining forces with Ramps On The Moon. They’ll be hosting three free introductory courses. And each one will be led by experienced theatre professionals for deaf and disabled people.

The writing and producing courses will both take place at Leeds Playhouse. The writers will be led by the theatre’s Artist for Change and Writer in Residence Leanna Benjamin and Furnace Coordinator Rio Matchett. They play a key role in the Playhouse’s artistic development programme. The producers will be led by Leeds Playhouse Agent for Change Paul Wilshaw and also Freelance Producer Ben Rothera.

The directing course will take place at Sheffield Theatres. That’ll be led by Agent for Change Ben Wilson and Associate Artistic Director Anthony Lau.

The courses are supported by Ramps on the Moon, a collaborative network of six major regional theatres. Their aims is to normalise the presence of deaf and disabled people on and off stage. They will run in a staggered calendar from 22th February to 7th June. And a week will be allocated for the sharing of work between 30th May and 3rd June.

“An exciting opportunity”

The Associate Director at Leeds Playhouse is Amy Leach. She said: “This is such an exciting opportunity for deaf and disabled artists to explore their passion for writing, directing and producing, and for us to connect with a host of new creatives who are just starting out in the theatre industry. Diverse voices, viewpoints and lived experiences are vital in the arts, enriching the work we produce, expanding the breadth of the stories we tell and helping us to reach the widest possible audience. We can’t wait to meet everyone who signs up for the courses. And to set off together on what promises to be a transformative process for us all.”

Anthony Lau is Associate Artistic Director at Sheffield Theatres. He said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with our friends at Leeds Playhouse and Ramps on the Moon to offer these introductory courses, to support deaf and disabled artists in directing, producing and writing. At Sheffield Theatres we are passionate about developing talent. And we can’t wait to start working with this group of early career artists.”

The deadline for applications is 10am on Monday 14th February 2022. During the application window, the theatres will be running two Zoom Q&A sessions. The first one will be on Tuesday 18th January, and the second on Wednesday 19th January. The sessions are an opportunity for people to meet the teams running the courses and ask questions. People can also get additional support and information on the application process.

Two short films are also available explaining the courses in more detail and giving applicants the chance to meet the writing, producing and directing teams.

Image: Antony Robling

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