A dancer wearing blue jeans, baseball cap and black T shirt leads 4 dancers behind in routine
Choreographer Billy in dance workshop. Photo by Robert Golden

Celebrating Deaf Talent for Deaf Awareness Week

In recognition of Deaf Awareness Week, our Unlimited Impact Trainee Emily rounds up our new commissions led by deaf artists.

I am very proud that this round of Unlimited commissions features not one, not two but FOUR projects featuring deaf artists, recognising the strength and sheer array of deaf talents out there, bursting to be shared with mainstream audiences.

Rinkoo Barpaga has been granted a Research and Development award to experiment with combining digital film projection and live performance. As a keen advocate for social change, the resulting performance of ‘Bubble and Butch’ seeks to highlight the shocking prevalence of mental health issues amongst the deaf population.

This production will also be a first to feature Urban Sign Language onstage – a little known variant of British Sign Language (BSL) predominantly used among young BAME communities in London and Birmingham.

Textile artist Omeima Mudawi–Rowlings, reflects upon her childhood memories of the River Nile in ‘River Runs Through’, and how her subsequent emigration from Sudan to the UK shaped her life experiences and flourishing deaf identity. Working with raw pigments and oxides derived from river samples, Omeima will create new artworks using specialist techniques fusing textiles and glass.

Alongside her practice, she will also run Deaf Awareness sessions at her exhibiting venue, and will be collaborating with other BSL users including deaf filmmaker Bim Ajadi. Omeima proudly states that “the project’s first language is BSL”.

Continuing in the spirit of collaboration, street dancer Billy Read has been awarded an International commission to develop ‘Somebody’s Watching Me’ with Hong Kong based dancer Ariel Fung Ching-Wai.

Set in a dystopian future where social justice has crumbled, communications are monitored and tyranny prevails; the two leads combine their dance skills to create a unique visual vocabulary of dance, sign language, facial expression and Visual Vernacular (VV) to lead a rebellion amongst young deaf street dancers.

Another International commission sees playwright Kaite O’Reilly develop ‘The Singapore ‘d’ Monologues’, a multilingual, intercultural theatre project between UK- and Singapore-based artists, exploring what it is to be a human informed by deaf and disability experiences from opposite sides of the globe.

Her collaborators include Ramesh Meyyappan, a deaf, Glasgow-based, Singaporean theatre creator, whose productions include a previous Unlimited commission for ‘Snails and Ketchup’, performed as part of the original London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Alongside projects such as ‘The Singapore ‘d’ Monologues’, Ramesh currently nurtures the next generation of deaf talents as Lecturer of Visual Theatre at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

We are thrilled to be supporting such exciting projects, and look forward to sharing their developments over the coming year!

Details of all our new Unlimited commissions can be found on the Portfolio page of our website here: https://weareunlimited.org.uk/commissions/