Playing at HOME this February, presented by Ad Infinitum, Extraordinary Wall o̶f̶ ̶Si̶l̶e̶n̶c̶e̶ is a new devised performance illuminating a pivotal time in history for the D/deaf community. In 1880, The Milan Conference passed eight resolutions on Deaf education. Banning the use of sign language in schools around the world, the conference stated that Oralism (an oral education) was superior to a signed eduction. As a result, Deaf children were exposed to an abusive system of speech therapy, one which would make them speak, ‘hear’ and lip read.
A new devised performance illuminating a pivotal time in history for the D/deaf community.
This ruling dominated for over a century despite poor results and the fact that 70% of Deaf children in the UK left school with a reading age of 7-8. Until recently, the experiences of these people have largely gone undocumented, as sign language does not exist in written form, and access to video recording was limited, until more recently.
Extraordinary Wall o̶f̶ ̶Si̶l̶e̶n̶c̶e̶ traces the ignorance and oppression faced by the Deaf community from this critical moment in time. Told from the perspective of three characters, Helen, Alan and Graham, their powerful coming-of-age stories unfold as they begin the question the world around them. Uniting in a struggle against oppression, violence and ignorance, the three experience the hangover from the dangerous and damaging ideology of 1880.
Extraordinary Wall o̶f̶ ̶Si̶l̶e̶n̶c̶e̶ looks to be a stunning sensory performance.
This work is the result of six years of collaboration between Ad Infinitum and a group of exceptional Deaf artists, academics and leaders. Ad Infinitum have shaped the performance from real-life testimonies collected through 40-hours of interviews with Deaf people from all over the UK. Combining the company’s signature blend of physicality with the beauty of British Sign Language, Extraordinary Wall o̶f̶ ̶Si̶l̶e̶n̶c̶e̶ looks to be a stunning sensory performance.
Performed by three Deaf actors and one hearing actor, Extraordinary Wall is a bilingual performance in English and BSL with integrated captioning.