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Leeds Playhouse, Sheffield Theatres And Ramps On The Moon Host A Landmark Sharing Event On Working With Deaf And Disabled Artists

The Theatre for Change sharing event is an opportunity for individual artists, small theatre companies and large arts organisations to learn from the Ramps initiative.

Leeds Playhouse, Sheffield Theatres And Ramps On The Moon Host A Landmark Sharing Event On Working With Deaf And Disabled Artists

Leeds Playhouse and Sheffield Theatres have been key members of the Ramps on the Moon consortium for seven years, striving to normalise the presence of deaf and disabled people both on and off stage.

They are now sharing the lessons they have learned, offering invaluable information, ideas and practical tips, as part of a landmark event for theatre makers and organisations seeking to improve their own creative craft. Theatre for Change: Access Shouldn't Be An Afterthought will run throughout the afternoon of Friday 30 September at the Playhouse, with participants being given the opportunity to enjoy Much Ado About Nothing - the latest Ramps production - in the evening.

Among the many talks and sessions scheduled for the day are practical workshops led by deaf, disabled and non-disabled artists, including panels on The Deaf Perspective and Integrated BSL, The Blind Perspective and Audio Description, Working with Learning Disabled Actors, how to make smaller scale work accessible, and lots of practical tips for creative access solutions.

Funded by Arts Council England, Ramps on the Moon is a collaborative partnership of leading regional theatres - the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich; Birmingham Repertory Theatre; Theatre Royal Stratford East; Nottingham Playhouse; Leeds Playhouse; and Sheffield Theatres - as well as two associate partners, Wiltshire Creative and the Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme.

Together, they share learnings between partners and across the industry, work with Agents for Change (deaf and disabled artists, writers, producers and theatre makers) within each partner theatre, make productions that reflect society back at itself, educate audiences on what to expect and ultimately give the industry as a whole permission to take risks.

The Theatre for Change sharing event is an opportunity for individual artists, small theatre companies and large arts organisations to learn from the Ramps initiative's seven years of improving and inspiring creative practice.

Michèle Taylor MBE, Director for Change at Ramps on the Moon, said: "This is an opportunity to go behind the scenes and have honest conversations about what Leeds Playhouse and Sheffield Theatres have learned from being part of the Ramps on the Moon consortium. I think it's fair to say that both theatres have changed in their understanding of, and approach to, disability equality over the last seven years and I urge everyone to make the most of their generosity in sharing what this journey has meant for them."

Amy Leach, Deputy Artistic Director at Leeds Playhouse and Director of the hit Ramps production Oliver Twist, said: "Through our involvement with Ramps on the Moon over the last few years, the Playhouse has been on a huge journey of learning around integrated access, for which we have to thank the many deaf and disabled artists we've worked with in that time.

"While it's a journey we're still very much on, we're excited to be able to share some of our learning with the sector, through hosting many of those same artists for the Theatre for Change event. It'll be a day packed with practical tips and tools, as we celebrate how far we've come and challenge ourselves and our industry to go further, deeper, and better.'

Dan Bates, Chief Executive of Sheffield Theatres, said: "We're delighted to be working once again with our friends at Leeds Playhouse to share the invaluable knowledge which has come from both our partnerships with Ramps on the Moon. This event offers an incredibly important opportunity to explore more ways to ensure that deaf and disabled artists are fully supported when creating, writing, acting and developing in our industry.'

Leeds Playhouse and Sheffield Theatres recently ran a successful joint playwriting, directing and producing course for deaf and disabled artists, led by disabled and non-disabled theatre professionals.

They have also joined forces with Barnsley Civic Theatre to launch Yorkshire Disabled Creatives Network for deaf, disabled, learning disabled and neurodivergent theatre makers in the county. Sessions take place every two months, rotating across the three theatres, offering professional development, industry talks, and a valuable opportunity to connect with other local theatre makers.

Ramps on the Moon - did you know:

  • The six partner theatres take it in turns to create an annual epic piece of ensemble theatre that will appeal to a mainstream audience. Each production then tours to all the other venues.
  • Integrated accessibility, in terms of audio description, BSL interpretation, captioning and audio description is included in the aesthetic and embedded creatively in the production from the very earliest stages.
  • Much Ado About Nothing is the fifth Ramps on the Moon show, with a sixth on the way in spring 2023.
  • Previous Ramps productions include Oliver Twist, Our Country's Good, The Who's Tommy, and The Government Inspector.
  • Leeds Playhouse's Oliver Twist, directed by its Deputy Artistic Director Amy Leach, was interrupted by the pandemic, but was remounted as a film hosted on The National Theatre At Home streaming platform. It was the first production shown on the platform that had not been produced by The National Theatre, reflecting a growing national commitment to accessible work.
  • Each Ramps organisation is committed to creating long-term employment and training opportunities for deaf and disabled people.
  • The members act as a hub within their region to disseminate experience, information and good practice.
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