Rachael's adventure (Part 1 Shuffle Festival July 2015)

Hello wonderful people!

I am The Deaf & Hearing Ensemble intern (also go by the name of Rachael, @flosssie) and the lovely Jen has asked me to blog a little about my time with this fabulous bunch!

Now please forgive me, I have never written a blog before; however I shall try my best to write witty and interesting things that shed some much deserved light on this damn amazing theatre company!

 This is our Rachael. 

This is our Rachael. 

A little background on the intern; I’m 3 weeks away from being 25 (or a quarter of a century…thanks mum), I shall soon be in my 3rd and final year of a degree in Theatre Arts, Education and Deaf studies and the little corner of theatre that holds my attention just a little more than the rest is Sign theatre and work exploring mental illness. I also have a 3rd of a nursing degree, a slight lip balm obsession and soft spot for the charity SignHealth (look them up, they do fabulous work) having faced my running fears and completed a 10k for them last month!

Now then, back to DH Ensemble. I first came to hear about them around spring time on a ferocious internet search knowing I needed to secure a work placement for my summer, and not content with settling just to pass the module. I’m ashamed to say before this afternoon of determined googling I had not heard of The Deaf and Hearing Ensemble; and even more surprisingly, neither had anyone on my course; even the lecturers I spoke to (and they know everyone!). As I googled (okay full disclosure: stalked) as much information as I could about them I couldn’t believe such a wonderful company existed that wasn’t on my radar. Especially since the lovely Sophie Stone is involved and I have seen her perform with my course mates on a few occasions. ANYWAY, naturally as anyone who knows me will concur I did what I do best and became I complete pain in the a**; multiple tweeted, direct messaged, emailed and probably Facebooked the poor people until they were forced to reply; very surprisingly not to tell me to go away but in fact to invite me to see them perform and become their intern! There were many an exciting email around this time…I may have even danced around a little bit.

So, fast forward to now; where to start? I first saw People of the Eye performed at the The Roundhouse and immediately fell in love. The piece is so striking and having seen it again a few weeks ago at Shuffle festival it just gets stronger! I still maintain as I did from the beginning that the mother’s monologue is so poignant and unexpected that you can’t help but be mesmerised by Erin’s humility. And no matter how many times I see it; S**t Kids Say, it still makes me have to stifle giggles like an idiot; special mention to Sophie’s “you’ve got one leg” character…hilarious! I do feel slightly guilty for ambushing Jen at The Roundhouse given she was so busy; however I can’t help myself! I think I may have let slip a few times I would be willing to contemplate being their slave just to be present…is it clear how grateful I am for this placement yet?

I was lucky enough to be invited to accompany Jen, Erin, David and Sophie to their rehearsals for Shuffle and then their performance. I’d be a big fat liar if I said I wasn’t nervous; in fact I think I walked at the speed of snails from the tube to the venue. I couldn’t have been made more welcome; in fact it was incredibly humbling just how welcome I was. The biggest thing is I didn’t feel like an intern; I felt valued. Granted, it still took me about an hour to say anything in a full sentence but I’m sure I covered that up REALLY well. Being in that rehearsal room was awesome. One of my biggest learning objectives was to witness the processes of how the company works creatively and what I saw shocked me hugely. Stupidly, I’d always been under the impression that professional companies had a magical book of answers and secret things of how to create amazing work; however I realised that the way I work now; both with personal and university projects is exactly the same as how DH Ensemble work and rehearse! I know it sounds stupid and obvious but I was surprised; and incredibly relieved! It was also a little reassuring to see that even this company in all their fabulousness (yes that is a word!) could struggle the way we do in our university projects; It quietens the voice of doubt a little more. Seeing their adaptation to this tiny space with no floor (challenge #1) with potentially no sound or projection (challenge #2345) was interesting. Thankfully all these things were resolved with minutes to spare and some swift work from the company, but I admit I found it difficult to be helpful and do my best to assist in making things run smoothly without feeling like I was getting in the way!

 Sophie and Erin in the tech… check out the last minute flooring!

Sophie and Erin in the tech… check out the last minute flooring!

The shuffle performance had an audience member leave because he couldn’t stand the high pitched sound within the piece; something I found quite interesting. We also had a dog wander in and grace the stage for a few seconds and the actors were so engrossed they didn’t even realise! Overall, Shuffle festival was genuinely one of the best days of my professional life and I am so thankful I could be there.

 The team and some audience hanging out at the festival after the performance. Bliss. 

The team and some audience hanging out at the festival after the performance. Bliss. 

And then...

It is now less than a week until the Edinburgh Festival BSL access day where People of the Eye will be performed and the childrens’ area for adults complete with a life size colourful memory tree will be up. Having asked to create this area I am now obviously terrified it will all go to pot and I will ruin one of the greatest days in the yearly calendar for The Deaf and Hearing Ensemble. However, hopefully not! And I cannot WAIT to get up there and get stuck in!