I cannot imagine my life without deafinitely theatre

William 19 - Deafinitely Youth Theatre Company member and past intern 

Our work empowers deaf culture, identity and pride locally, nationally and internationally.

1 in 7 of the UK’s population are deaf or hard of hearing, with over 156,000 people using BSL. Despite this large number, there are minimal specialist learning opportunities for deaf young people.

Most deaf schools and clubs are under threat of closure, and with the majority of deaf young people now in mainstream education, there is little scope to interact creatively and socially. Despite these barriers, there is a strong appetite for theatre among the deaf community, and Deafinitely Theatre consequently fills a vital gap.

  • Every year we work with over 100 disadvantaged deaf young people through our annual youth programme across London and regionally across the UK.
  • We offer at least 2 paid internships and 2 student work experience placements to deaf young people every year.
  • Over 3, 000 deaf people access our services online and in person at our productions every year.
  • Last year 51% of our main show audiences were new to our work and 94% rated our show as Excellent/Good.
  • Our main production Contractions won our first ever award in 2018, the Off West End Award (Offie) for Best Production.
  • We work with over 20 volunteers every year.
  • We consult with over 70 companies each year to teach deaf awareness and best practice.

William's Story 

William first participated in a Deafinitely Theatre workshop five years ago, aged 14, progressing from there to performing in Deafinitely Youth Theatre Company productions and assisting our Youth Co-ordinator and Artistic Director in regional education and outreach workshops. Having proved himself a talented and committed emerging theatre professional, William then interned with Deafinitely Theatre and was ultimately employed as a part-time Administrator in April 2016.

An aspiring actor, William went on to train on our adult training scheme The Hub and in the Actors Showcase he was spotted and subsequently cast in Shakespeare's Globe Theatre's production of IMOGEN making him the first deaf actor to perform there. William is now enjoying a successful career as an actor playing a lead role in the Ramps on the Moon production of TOMMY, a professional national tour. He made his directing debut on our youth project in 2018 in order to achieve his Arts Award.

William Grint in the Ramps On The Moon production 'Tommy' - National Tour

“I first joined Deafinitely Youth Theatre in 2012 because I wanted to learn more acting skills and also sign-language skills. I absolutely loved it so stayed on for a few years until I was old enough to progress into the adult training scheme, the HUB. ”

Rose 20, Hub member

"I found this workshop both fun and informative. It helped me to gain confidence and also understand more fully Deaf culture and how different forms of communication can be used both in the workplace and also in everyday situations”

Deaf Awareness Training participant – Front of House staff member, Park Theatre

Last year...

  • Our main production and deaf mental health project 4.48 Psychosis played to 1, 513 audience members in person. Over 12, 000 people engaged through our online channels and platforms. The show was nominated for both the Broadway World UK Award for Best Direction of a New Production of a Play and the Off West End Theatre Award for Design and gained three-star and four-star reviews in the Stage and Guardian - The Guardian ★★★★ “A productive insight into the problems of deaf mental health patients, forcing us to confront the fact that their experiences are rarely considered.”
  • We launched HUB our training programme for adults aged over 21 with partners RADA, City Lit & Royal Court.
  • HUB benefited 172 participants - 71% deaf and 22% hearing, with 7% preferring not to say
    We delivered 44 youth workshops to participants aged 14-25 and had an increase in engagement of 57% on the year before (2018: 553 young people, 2017: 353)
  • We saw an increase in uptake for our youth theatre by 82%  (2018: 20, 2017: 11). 
  • We delivered a two week London Youth Summer School which included us offering for the first time 16 accommodation placements and evening activities for those young participants based outside of the capital.
  • Our Youth Theatre performed one production of These Bridges in May 2019 at the Bush Theatre as part of the National Theatre Connections project, and gave two performances of Gargantua in London in February 2019 at City Lit’s John Lyons Theatre.
  • All of our youth participants took part in Arts Award (An A and AS Level equivalent qualification). We had six young people gain their Bronze Arts Award and two their Silver, an increase of 60% on the year before (2017-18 saw five awards).
  • We offered four deaf young people paid internships, two deaf work experience placements and mentored 14 volunteers.
  • We offered 78 Consultancy sessions nationally to external organisations and individuals, increasing our client numbers on last year by 11% (2018: 78, 2017: 70), offering advice on casting, accessible marketing and deaf awareness training, to organisations including RSC, Bush Theatre, Nottingham Playhouse and the Royal Court.
  • Our Artistic Director Paula Garfield won a Tonic Award in March 2019, for her energy and unwavering commitment to opening theatre up and the artistic quality of the work she produces as Artistic Director of Deafinitely Theatre.