Go to What's On


Thu 18 Nov 2021 - Thu 17 Mar 2022

Whether you’re happiest on stage, in the wings or in the audience, come and be part of the conversation about the past, present and future of theatre made by and for deaf people.

The Watermill Theatre is excited to host this monthly discussion space giving our deaf creatives and audiences the chance to shape what we offer in the future. The conversation will be led by Annie Harris, one of our deaf facilitators, with interpreters Ana Becker and Paul Mancini on hand to support communication.  

Past topics and guests... 

In August, Emily Howlett joined the chat thinking about Bringing Sign Onstage as we discussed all the different ways BSL can be integrated into a production, for the whole run or a one-off show. What works for you?

In September we asked, where are all the Deaf playwrights? The perfect discussion for emerging playwrights, those with a project to promote, and audiences who want to support new writers, Paula Garfield will join us to talk about nurturing Deaf, deaf and hard of hearing creatives putting pen to paper.

In October, Jenny Sealey joined us with returning guest Emily Howlett to talk about Developing Deaf Directors. Have you ever wondered how do Deaf, deaf and hard of hearing directors get started in the industry? What works best in the rehearsal room? 

In November, we responded to the recent attention on captioning, with the wisdom and insight of Charlie Swinbourne to guide our conversation. What's the dream for a captioned performance, what are all the different ways you've seen text appear in the theatre? 

Coming up...

On Thursday 16 December, 6.30-7.30pm we'll be learning about the rich and captivating world of Visual Vernacular, a beautiful hybrid art form that blends BSL, mime, sign poetry and more. Experts in this field Duffy and Zoe McWhinney will be joining the discussion.

Suitable for 16+ to adults who are Deaf, deaf, hard of hearing and allies.
No experience necessary.
Date: Third Thursday of every month, 6.30pm - 7.30pm
Price: Free

Paula Garfield

Paula Garfield is the Artistic Director of Deafinitely Theatre. An actor, director, workshop leader
and organiser, Paula has worked on a variety of television, film and theatre projects over the past fifteen years. In 2002 she established Deafinitely Theatre with Steven Webb and Kate Furby after becoming frustrated at the barriers that deaf actors and directors face across the arts and media.

She has produced and directed many plays and worked extensively in TV, including Channel Four’s Learn Sign Language, Four Fingers and a Thumb, BBC’s Hands Up and Casualty, plus appearances in every series of the BBC’s deaf drama, Switch.

For Deafinitely Theatre, Paula’s previous productions include: Two Chairs, Motherland, Children of a Greater God, Playing God, Double Sentence and Gold Dust. She also devised and directed The Boy and the Statue for Deafinitely
at the Tricycle Theatre and on a London schools tour. Paula has directed two productions at Shakespeare’s Globe: Love’s Labour’s Lost for the Globe to Globe Festival, as part of Deafinitely’s 10th anniversary celebrations, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Her most recent productions for Deafinitely include: Tanika’s Journey (Southwark Playhouse), Grounded (Park Theatre), a national tour of family show, Something Else and Contractions at ND2 in 2017.

Paula’s production of Contractions for Deafinitely Theatre won the off West End Award (Offie) for ‘Best Production’ 2017.

Her most recently production at N.D.T ‘4.48 Psychosis’ November 2019 and was nominated and shortlisted for Best Director by Broadway World Uk. Paula won the Tonic Award for her work in Deafinitely Theatre.

Emily Howlett

Emily Howlett is a bilingual director and performer, using both British Sign Language and Spoken English. Her work often includes integrated BSL and creative captions, as well as exploring visual storytelling and creative access. She is based between Derby and Cardiff, and has worked extensively throughout the UK. Recently, she was been Associate Director for Derby Theatre's first in-house main-stage shows with full BSL integration ('Jungle Book' and 'Treasure Island'), and has directed the creatively captioned 'Eugene' for Edinburgh Fringe Festival (via Attenborough Arts and Slunglow). Emily has just returned from Timber Festival, for which she directed the community co-created 'The Offerings'. As well as shows, she also tries to effectively direct a family including two children, guinea pigs and dogs!

Jenny Sealey

Jenny has been Graeae’s Artistic Director since 1997. Her directing career began with Interplay Theatre, co-directing Sea Changes, then directing Stepping Stones and Mad Meg. She also won the Liberty Human Rights Arts Award and was on the h.Club 100 list of the most influential people in the creative industries.

Directing credits for Graeae include: This Is Not For You, Reasons to be Cheerful (2017, 2012, 2010 and concert versions), The House of Bernarda Alba (in a co-production with Royal Exchange Theatre), Blood Wedding (in a co-production with Dundee Rep and Derby Theatre); The Threepenny Opera (with Pete Rowe in a co-production with New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Nottingham Playhouse and Birmingham Rep); Belonging (with Vinicius Daumas and performed in Brazil & London); also Signs of a Star Shaped Diva; Static; Blasted; Whiter than Snow; peeling; Bent; Iron Man and Rhinestone Rollers.

International credits include: Blood Wedding (Setagaya Public Theatre, Tokyo); Romeo and Juliet (Saitama Arts Theatre, Tokyo); and at Greenwich+Docklands International Festival (GDIF) then touring outdoor arenas: Against the Tide; The Garden; The Limbless Knight – A Tale of Rights Reignited. Jenny co-directed the London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony alongside Bradley Hemmings (GDIF).

Charlie Swinbourne

Charlie is an award-winning screenwriter with credits on Casualty, Moving On and CBBC, as well as being the Editor of The Limping Chicken blog for deaf people. He previously worked in theatre access for Soho Theatre and for Stagetext, and is a regular captioned theatre-goer.

Zoƫ McWhinney

Zoë McWhinney is Visual Vernacular poet, performer and creative consultant on stage and screen, occasionally facilitating VV workshops world over.


Early in her VV career, she competed in several national and international VV championships (Deaffest 2014, BDAY 2016, Pedius 2017 and EDYC 2018) and is a 2020 graduate of Ecole Theatrale Universelle in Toulouse.