Deafinitely Theatre are hosting a panel with three actors and three directors to discuss how to best represent British Sign Language and Deaf culture in theatre. Our directors will be joining us on Zoom, with Paula Garfield and our actors coming in live from Cambridge studio! We are so excited to raise some pressing questions about how to raise the standards of not only bilingual but bicultural plays. Joining us we have Alim Jayda (EastEnders), Kelsey Gordon (Messy, Zooco Theatre), Julian Peedle-Calloo (Holby City) 
along with Federay Holmes who has directed plays at the Globe Ensemble such as Shakespeares’ As You Like It, Amy Leach is a director from the Leeds Playhouse where she directed Oliver Twist and Jenny Sealey a director from Graeye Theatre who has directed lots of plays, her most recent - The Paradis Files.

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Alim Jayda (Actor)

Alim is a hard of hearing, Indian-English, LGBT actor, presenter and sign language interpreter who is passionate advocate for Diversity and Inclusion in the Arts. With more than twelve years industry experience, he used his extensive contacts to campaign to get BSL levels added onto the Spotlight portal and recently pulled together, created and launched the Guide to Good Practice with BSL in the Arts with Equity, Deafinitely Theatre and various deaf friends and creatives. Alim’s credits include EastEnders (BBC), Stath Lets Flats 3 (Channel 4), Freestyle (CBBC), Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again (Universal), Kismet Diner (Ridley Scott Films), The Boy in the Dress (Royal Shakespeare Company), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Shakespeare’s Globe and Deafinitely Theatre), Tommy (Ramps on the Moon) and commercials for Apple, Smirnoff and Pizza Hut. 

Kelsey Cherie Gordon (Actor)

Kelsey is an actress, facilitator and storyteller based in South-East London. Kelsey graduated from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in 2020 with BA Honours in Drama, Applied Theatre and Education. Her credits include Summer’s Park Adventure (Music Box Theatre), Talking Hands (Deafinitely Theatre), Messy (Zooco Theatre), Listen (BFI Film Academy Short Film), Pretty Bop (R.A.E music video), And Others (Graeae rehearsal reading by Jenny Sealey), FGM (Sign Health Awareness Video) and Reverberation (a BSLZone short by Samuel Dore). Kelsey currently works with Handprint Theatre and Mousetrap, leading and assisting workshops for children. 

Julian Peedle-Calloo (Actor)  

Julian is a London-based deaf actor. He trained on a Mountview Theatre School summer course and helped set up and took part in a short course for deaf actors at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts. Julian has also trained in the Meisner Technique with Scott Williams, as well as Beru Tessema from RADA. His credits include Holby City (BBC), New Tricks (BBC) and several short films including Louder than Words and Hamlet for Shakespeare’s Globe’s BSL synopsis online series. Julian’s theatre work includes playing a Deaf icon, Laurent Clerc, for Dreamatorium.

Federay Holmes (Director)

 Federay is an Associate Artist at Shakespeare’s Globe, where she directs and teaches acting, and an Associate of experimental London theatre company, The Factory, for whom she writes and performs. An actor for over twenty-five years, she has worked extensively in theatres around the UK as well as at many London theatres. She has made many television appearances and performed in innumerable radio dramas for the BBC. She has taught acting and directed many productions with undergraduate students at RADA, Royal Central School of Music and Drama, Rose Bruford and is lead Acting Tutor for Rutgers Conservatory at Shakespeare’s Globe. She has a long association as director with experimental Baroque Ensemble, Solomon’s Knot. Her directing credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet (The Dutch Factory in Amsterdam), Sonnet Walks, Shakespeare in the Abbey at Westminster Abbey, Hamlet (2018), As You Like It (2018), As You Like It (2018), Sonnet Sunday, Henry IV part 1 (2019), Henry IV part 2 (2019) and Henry V (2019) (Shakespeare’s Globe). Future plans include a bilingual BSL/original text production of Antony and Cleopatra at Shakespeare’s Globe.

Amy Leach (Director)

Amy is currently Associate Director at Leeds Playhouse where she has directed a broad range of productions including A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist and The Night Before Christmas, all of which worked with deaf artists and included integrated BSL. Before working at Leeds Playhouse, Amy was a freelance director for 14 years working for theatres across the UK including Hull Truck, Royal Exchange, Dukes Lancaster, National Theatre Wales, Unicorn and Sherman Cymru. She ran her own children’s theatre company, en masse, between 2003-2008 which toured nationally and internationally.

Jenny Sealey (Director)

Jenny has been Graeae’s Artistic Director since 1997. She has pioneered a new theatrical language and coined the ‘aesthetics access’ as an artistic expression, experimenting with bilingual BSL and English, prerecorded BSL, creative captioning, in ear/live audio description methods. Credits for Graeae include Blood Wedding (co-produced with Dundee Rep, Derby Theatre), The Threepenny Opera (co-directed with Peter Rowe, co-produced with New Wolsey Theatre, Nottingham Playhouse, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Birmingham Rep), Reasons to be Cheerful (2010 co-produced with New Wolsey Theatre and Theatre Royal Stratford East) The House of Bernarda Alba with Manchester Royal Exchange. Jenny’s radio credits include Little Dorrit, Midwich Cuckoos and Bartholomew Abominations in addition to writing and directing Three Sisters Rewired for BBC Radio 4. Outdoor productions have included Against the Tide, The Iron Man, The Garden, The Limbless Knight – A Tale of Rights Reignited and contemporary opera for 14-18 Now WW1 Centenary This Is Not For You with disabled veterans. In May 2021 she directed an international production in Tokyo of The Tempest with artists from Japan (live), Bangladesh (on film) and UK (on film) online to a live Japanese audience. Jenny co-directed the London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony alongside Bradley Hemmings (GDIF). She also won the Liberty Human Rights Arts Award. Jenny is the founder member of Where’s My Vagina? women’s collective.

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