Deaf Arts, Professional Development, Travel

Reflection of Solar Bear Theatre Company

For the last two weeks, I had a 2 weeks placement with Solar Bear Theatre Company and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and learning a lot about their programs, observing the partnership between Royal Scotland Conservatoire and Solar Bear Theatre Company, and participating in devised theatre as part of bridge week with a final year student. 

I truly learnt immensely thus I do not know where to start.   To know more about Solar Bear Theatre, you can visit their website: http://www.solarbear.org.uk.

Solar Bear Theatre Company was established to deliver youth theatre program.  Eventually, they saw the demand for professional deaf performing artists therefore shifted their focus to Deaf Theatre.  Previously, there was no trained deaf performing artist and often, like many of us, we were given perceived idea that we cannot be performing artists.

They started with Deaf Youth Theatre six years ago and eventually built up to delivering Deaf Theatre Skills with Royal Scotland Conservatoire along with other programs.  Amazing how much work they have done in a short time.

I am hoping for something similar like this in Brisbane.  Nothing compared to Australian Theatre of the Deaf (ATOD).  I rather start local and stay local with a possibility of national touring.  For now, I am aiming to develop partnership with few organizations to deliver workshops and possibly do a performance project.

Importantly, I would like to see more deaf youth to be involved in theatre and to become a professional performing artist through weekly classes and hopefully to have a long term sustainability of delivering the group classes.  Of course with hope to start increasing the talent pool in Queensland and to have a diverse talent pool of deaf performing artists.

Time in the office

I enjoyed my time in the office as I felt at ease with the staff signing.  The barriers had disappeared from the door of their office.  I hope this make sense.  I work in a hearing world where most people automatically knows that I speak/lip-reading and there are days when I just can’t be bothered lip-reading.  Signing is my number one preference.  Often I sign when I am talking and that I will continue to do so.

There are times when I am in the office and times when I am observing other activities.  When I am in the office, this environment actually allowed me to understand how they work and I am provided with the opportunity to ask questions that came to my mind, rather than waiting for the next meeting to ask questions.

I read a lot of documents including a student doing a research on higher education for deaf performing artists, grants, and project proposals.  This gave me ideas of how it all started and what to expect in the near future.  I am really keen on sharing the research however I will need to wait until it becomes publically available.

I found this opportunity to be invaluable for many reason and I enjoyed understanding, learning and observing how the staff works at the Solar Bear Theatre Company.  Furthermore, it gave me hope to continue with developing deaf theatre group in Brisbane.

Deaf Awareness Training

I attended the Deaf Awareness Training on Monday night for first year student at Royal Scotland Conservatoire during the first week of the placement.  This looks similar to Auslan 1 Classes.  The students were very motivated and willing to learn sign language, they had fun!  I am considering the Number 12 game for check in at Vulcana Women’s Circus.  It will get the students to learn numbers along with the Alphabets.

Also I did learn some BSL!!  Few signs are not appropriate for BSL, which is appropriate for Auslan and vice versa.   We all had laughs.

Deaf Theatre Skills

I attended the Deaf Theatre Skills on Tuesday night.  Deaf Theatre Skills is a short course for Deaf students to develop their acting and performance skills at Royal Scotland Conservatoire in partnership with Solar Bear Theatre.  For more information: http://www.solarbear.org.uk/training-and-creative-learn-programme/deaf-theatre-skills and http://www.rcs.ac.uk.

While the students learnt the history of how theatre started, the students were requested to improvise on the story of “Antigone”, a Greek myth that was written by Sophocles.  I was invited to be involved.  I was planning on observing however there numbers of student was small whilst others were away either sick or other circumstances.

We first improvised and then we discuss what was the point of each section of the story.  We only managed to get through 3 improvisations and 4 sections of the story. At the end we all agreed on – power and revenge.

The following week of the placement, the class was on bridge week therefore, the class was not on.

Deaf Youth Theatre

I attended the Deaf Youth Theatre on Wednesday evening during the two weeks placement.  They worked on exploring the shape of the object given by the teachers and how they move the objects together.  The objects during the first week were to think of a marine animals and how they move as a marine animal.  The second week was to explore plants and the associated movement.

It was remarkable to watch the Deaf Youth Theatre – the deaf students were very diverse in terms of creativity, skills and ideas.  Quite amazing to watch on how they communicated with each other and how they can improvise an object when given a task.

There were times when I want to become a teacher and help out, although I remind myself that I am merely on the placement and not a teacher.  Hopefully, when I do return to Australia, I would be able to continue with trainee teacher at Vulcana Women’s Circus.

Devised Performance Project

I was involved in a 20 minutes devised performance project with 4 other deaf performing artists, creative coordinator and a final year design student of Royal Scotland Conservatoire.  This was done over 3 days – 2 days were half days and 1 full day.  We done impressively well and lots of people enjoyed the showing.

The devised performance project was called “Roots” and it was exploring different journeys and events that can happen which can hold us back or propel us forward.  Between us five performing artists, the designer and creative coordinator, we all have different skills and creative ideas which contributed to the devised project.

We literally had lots of fun, laughter and tears.  I immensely enjoyed the creative process of the devised piece, “Roots”.  I look forward to the video and the photos of the performance.

Partnership between Royal Scotland Conservatoire and Solar Bear Theatre Company

It had been a pleasure to observe the partnership between Royal Scotland Conservatoire and Solar Bear Theatre Company.  It has been amazing to see such partnership to thrive over the last three years.  Solar Bear Theatre Company first approached Royal Scotland Conservatoire to see if they can deliver short course in Deaf Theatre Skills for deaf students.  Of Course Royal Scotland Conservatoire were skeptical at first however decided to have a trial of the short course.  After the very first block of Deaf Theatre Skills, they were very impressed and continued to develop the partnership further.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to lunch for the next stage of the degree development for deaf actors to be implemented in 2015.  Amazing enough, I met the vice-president of Royal Scotland Conservatoire and we had discussion about performing arts and breaking the field as a DEAF performing artist through higher education.

This degree that will start in 2015 and is only held every three years to ensure the talent pool is balanced at the end of each periodic degree.

Press Release:

http://www.solarbear.org.uk/about-us/press/press-releases/52-first-project-of-its-kind

http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/news/glasgow-group-sets-up-degree-course-for-deaf-actors-132055n.21742533

I am really excited and I am definitely watching the space.

Photos and Videos

I did an interview video with the vice-president of RCS and Gerry of Solar Bear to strengthen my grant application

The photos and videos will be for private use and for my grant application.  I will be emailing them to see which photos are acceptable for publicity and I will let you know in due course.

Reflection

Reflecting on the last two weeks of the placement with Solar Bear Theatre Company has exceeded my expectation as I had few ideas of what to expect.  Originally, I thought, perhaps the programs were being delivered to fulfill the deaf community desire to have a deaf theatre.  I was proven wrong and I am very glad I commenced this placement with open-mind to learn about their program.

Furthermore, they have hired two deaf apprentices to encourage them to become an arts worker of their choice.   I wasn’t expecting that until I read the latest news before commencing the placement.  I was very impressed.

Also meeting the deaf actors and the deaf youth has instilled high hope for me to develop a program in Brisbane.  Seeing them motivated and passionate about their involvement in Theatre is amazing.

At the end of the placement, I was very nostalgic after meeting such amazing people and seeing programs being successful. I certainly will come back to Scotland and perhaps I will watch the Deaf Youth Theatre Summer Performance and maybe the launch of the Scotland’s first deaf acting degree.

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