On Friday 22nd June the University’s unique undergraduate BA Programme, Theatre Arts, Education & Deaf Studies celebrated its Silver Anniversary at its new premises within the Institute of Education at the London Road site.
The Programme started life at Bulmershe College of Higher Education in 1986. Yes, it is actually 26 years old but the celebrations were put on hold in order to take place at the newly renovated buildings at London Road.
Designed initially as a one year certificate for deaf actors and teachers of the deaf to develop acting and drama workshop skills, the Programme has evolved into the only theatre and education programme for deaf and hearing students in the UK and indeed across Europe.
More than 60 students, alumni, current and ex staff gathered for a ‘beer and burger’ before touring the new TAEDS building. This was followed by an emotional cabaret of signed poems, signed songs, monologues and performances ranging from current student work, performances by alumni to a rendition of Dylan Thomas’ Fern Hill by Ian Stewart, a former lecturer on the programme and original acting member of the British Theatre of the Deaf in the 1960s and 70s.
Handprint Theatre made up of recent graduates also performed a section of their innovative integrated show for children – Soapy Sam – which incorporates British Sign Language and puppetry.
Highlights included an hilarious signed duet rendition of Jason and Kylie’s Especially For You, a one-woman Sign Supported English – the Musical and culminated in an outrageous monologue, The Angry Vagina from Jacob Casselden, a graduate who performed recently at the Royal Court Theatre in London.
Congratulatory wishes were also received from the department of Film, Theatre & Television (from where the original course was born), Graeae Theatre and Deafinitely Theatre whose artistic director herself was a former student.
Reaction to the celebration includes this blog entry from one of the alumni.