As a deafblind actor, I was excited to join the National Theatre in telling this unique story

Two women, standing on stage, arms in the air
Zara Arnold, left, performing In Touch at the National Theatre. (Photography by Patrick Baldwin)

As a deafblind actor, I was excited to be involved in the production of In Touch at the National Theatre.

In Touch is a show about how deafblind people go through life, the barriers they have faced as well as learning how to live with their disability. For the production, Graeae Theatre Company collaborated with the Inclusion Theatre Company from Russia.

The first few days of rehearsals in Moscow were in a studio room in an art museum. Here, we got to know each other and bond exploring different drama games.

We watched the 2015 version of the play to get an idea of the shape of it. Then we worked on a few scenes to start – which included me and Raji, both actors from the UK – in what would become a new version of the play.

We worked on words or phrases on how we feel about being deafblind, or how the hearing actors felt when meeting someone who is deafblind. We also did ensemble work as at times during the play we work together to show the idea of both loneliness and togetherness. We also had an open rehearsal so visitors from the museum could watch.

The cast of In Touch are posing for a group photo

On one of the days, we rehearsed on a stage connected to a university. The small theatre space could have held up to 200 audience members. We rehearsed and worked out how to tell people’s individual stories in different ways, and how to use certain objects as metaphors.

Three performers are lifting a woman on stage

With this project, we had several languages in one room. In fact we had six languages in the room, which included Russian to English, English to Russian, British Sign Language, English to Hands On, Russian to Russian Sign Language, Russian Hands On and Russian Deafblind Manual.

Several actors moving around the stage
(Photography by Patrick Baldwin)

After a week of rehearsing at Graeae Theare in London, the big day came. The performance of In Touch was staged at The National Theatre, London on the 14 October for two performances. Tension was high as we did the technical run through – we had so little time – but the National Theatre crew were brilliant and made sure it all fell in to place on time.

Both performances went really well and the audience really enjoyed it.

Sense Arts collaborated on In Touch, a new production at the National Theatre.

In Touch presented real stories of people who are deafblind, blind, visually impaired, D/deaf, hard-of-hearing, sighted and hearing – all told through an eclectic style of spoken, signed and physical theatre.

Find out more about the work of Sense Arts.

Can sound be made visible? Exploration via sensory marble runs


Author: Zara Arnold

Zara is a deafblind actor and co-founder of In Sight Theatre

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