Norwich Theatre Royal praised for its signed performances

A Norwich arts venue has been praised for its signed and captioned performances that give deaf people the opportunity to enjoy a range of top theatre shows in Norwich.

Legally Blonde, Swallows and Amazons, and Oliver! are among shows coming to Norwich Theatre Royal this year which will have performances with translations by British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters. Other shows will have captioned performances, where the words of the show's scripts are displayed on a screen.

Sue Moore, from Deaf Connexions which is based in Norwich, has praised the theatre's efforts to open up theatre opportunities to people with hearing loss.

She said: 'The signed performances give deaf people equal access to the theatre which is brilliant. I know lots of people have really enjoyed the shows, and some people particularly look forward to watching specific interpreters.'

She said the number of deaf people watching shows at the theatre was increasing, and this year's line-up of signed shows was really exciting.

Freelance BSL interpreter Andy Higgins, who last did a signed performance of Avenue Q at the Theatre Royal and will be returning to sign Oliver! in August, explained the interpreter's role was not always about literal script translations, but also about conveying the subtext and overall meanings. He said interpreters often added an element of characterisation to differentiate between the characters and to direct the audience to watch the actors during visual moments such as slapstick in pantomime.

He said: 'It is a privilege to interpret for the shows. It is about equality for deaf people, and it really does raise awareness.'

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The theatre's recent pantomime Sleeping Beauty included a sequence where the cast did a signed Abba medley.

Signed performances at the theatre include: Legally Blonde (March 2), Swallows and Amazons (March 17), Propeller (May 12), and Oliver! (August 3). Captioned performances include: English Touring Opera's Eugene Onegin (April 11), Birds of a Feather (June 14) and Oliver! (July 18).

Headsets to amplify sound and a necklace sound enhancer which taps into the T setting on hearing aids are also available.

For more details and to book tickets visit or call 01603 630000. For details of other signed performances in Norfolk and across the country visit

Are you involved in a new arts project? Call reporter Emma Knights on 01603 772428 or email

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