How a deaf actor launched the first deaf-led theatre company in the UK

In 2002, Paula Garfield, deaf herself, established the company Deafinitely Theatre after becoming frustrated at the barriers that deaf actors and directors face across the arts and media

As a professional actor during the 1990s I became increasingly frustrated with the barriers that deaf people faced across the arts. Most significantly it seemed that there was a real lack of theatre created by deaf artists and with deaf audiences in mind. 

I spent 15 years as an actor and was often the only deaf professional working within a “mainstream” theatre company. Despite having a deaf actor using sign language, the shows weren’t made accessible to deaf audiences – deaf friends who came to see me perform would always say how lovely it was to see me on stage but, not able to understand the hearing actors, they weren’t able to enjoy the production fully. I did notice during this time that there was some progress in improving accessibility with the introduction of captioning and British Sign Language (BSL) interpreted performances. 

Over the years I became disillusioned with the world of acting, and theatre more generally, having experienced...Read the full article