Ad Infinitum present their latest production Extraordinary Wall of Silence at HOME Manchester during a 13-show run in February.
Commissioned by HOME Manchester, Extraordinary Wall of Silence comprises three powerful coming-of-age stories. Supported by The North Wall, it traces the oppression and ignorance faced by the Deaf community to one pivotal point in history.
The production was commissioned by HOME Manchester alongside Birmingham Hippodrome, Bristol Old Vic, Newbury Corn Exchange, In Good Company and Salisbury Playhouse.
Ad Infinitum have drawn on real-life testimonies collected across 40 hours of interviews with Deaf people from all over the UK. Extraordinary Wall of Silence is performed by three Deaf actors and one hearing actor, directed by George Mann and devised by the company to shed light on the history of oppression experienced by Deaf people.
What is Extraordinary Wall of Silence at HOME Manchester about?
Helen, Alan and Graham are told they are impaired and need fixing. As they begin to question the world around them, their stories unfold, uniting them in a struggle against violence, ignorance and oppression. Connected through a shared past, they are transported to a crucial moment in 1880 that would impair the way the world viewed Deaf people for over a century – the 1880 Milan Conference which passed eight resolutions on Deaf education and banned the use of sign language in schools all over the world.
The Conference declared that an oral education was superior to a manual signed education and put Deaf children through an abusive regime of speech therapy to make them speak, ‘hear’, and lip-read. The decision prevailed for more than a century.
The production shares the stories of people affected by this in a bilingual performance in British Sign Language and English, using them as a starting point to explore in-depth a culture under threat from fear, prejudice and ignorance.
The full cast consists of David Ellington, Matthew Gurney, Moira Anne McAuslan and Deborah Pugh. Additional work by Charlotte Dubery and Mia Ward.
When does Extraordinary Wall of Silence run at HOME Manchester?
Extraordinary Wall of Silence runs at HOME Manchester from 12 February until 22 February 2020.
image from Extraordinary Wall of Silence courtesy Alex Brenner