Today Deafinitely Theatre and The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, in collaboration with Graeae Theatre Company, announce the launch of a new, 5-day BSL in Performance Acting Intensive course in July 2024. 

The course is the first of its kind and will provide deaf artists with bespoke, high-quality actor training lead by deaf teachers, artists and practitioners in British Sign Language (BSL). 

Work undertaken during the 5-day BSL Acting Intensive course will contribute to the development of future courses offered by Central, Deafinitely Theatre and Graeae Theatre Company.

Paula Garfield, Artistic Director of Deafinitely Theatre, said:

“It’s been a dream of mine, for a very long time, to have institutional acting and theatre courses specifically delivered and aimed for British Sign Language (BSL) users. Deafinitely Theatre are so excited to announce this new working relationship with The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, in association with our friends at Graeae Theatre Company, as we co-deliver this course providing bespoke training for artists who use BSL and want to develop and improve their acting skills.  We look forward to continuing to create and celebrate a talent pool of deaf and BSL using actors who will now have the opportunity to access a drama school course without barriers.”

Josette Bushell-Mingo OBE, Central’s Principal said:

“As many will know, I have had the privilege of working with the national deaf community in Sweden, and Swedish sign language has become part of my cultural and linguistic inspiration. So, when Paula and Jenny – both titan arts makers – approached me, it was not a question of ‘if’ but of ‘how’.

This course which is led, designed and curated by deaf people, and with the support of Central, is our gift in legacy, societal impact and, most importantly, great stories. To that end, the whole of our institution will have a process of cultural and linguistic understanding to those who will join us – with first stage BSL classes and cultural seminars, ambassadors within the institution and more. This will be available to Central’s students and staff and embedded in our continued work in inclusion for all our communities at Central – and beyond. Onwards!”

Jenny Sealey OBE, Joint CEO/ Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre Company said:

“Actor training is vital, and I love seeing new talent being developed and nurtured. We are excited to be part of this new collaboration and look forward to seeing this new cohort eventually grace our stages and screens.”

Primarily designed for deaf actors who have some acting experience, a limited number of places on the course will also be made available to hearing actors with experience of deaf culture and BSL Level 3 or equivalent.

To find out more about the BSL Acting Intensive Course and make your application, please visit the BSL Acting Intensive course page on the Central website.