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My Mother Said I Never Should – BSL retelling adds layers to play about communication
Posted on: February 27th 2020
Section: Member news


A play about the pitfalls of communication has been given extra resonance in a new adaptation featuring British Sign Language.

My Mother Said I Never Should is a moving and funny exploration of the lives of four generations of women in one family, first staged in Manchester in 1987.

Shifting back and forth in time, their loves, expectations and choices play out against huge social change from 1900-1980s.

It addresses issues of teenage pregnancy, career choices and single motherhood, showing how the different generations break free from parents' traditions and culture.

Visual storytelling and actors signing adds layers to Sheffield Theatres’ new co-production with the company fingersmiths as well as shining fresh light on the experiences of Deaf people.

Written in 1985 by Charlotte Keatley, My Mother Said I Never Should has been translated into 22 languages and was awarded the George Devine Award, Manchester Evening News Award for Best New Play and nominated for an Olivier Award as Most Promising Newcomer.

It was, for many years, the most performed play by a female playwright, though it has never beforebeen  performed for Deaf audiences in their own language.

Presented in BSL and spoken English, and featuring a cast of one hearing and three Deaf actors, the production captures the rich breadth of communication styles used by the d/Deaf community.

It also provides a snapshot of the Deaf community’s rich history from 1900-80’s when BSL was banned in schools & an oral approach enforced.

The themes resonate with today’s Deaf and wider communities: language choice, Deaf peoples’ opportunities and expectations, as well as women’s equality.

The Northcott is using the opportunity of staging this play to bring hearing and d/Deaf communities together.

With the support of the Community Fund as part of their #CelebrateNationalLottery25 campaign the theatre is inviting members of the deaf community to the performance and to join us for a signed back stage tour.

In addition, staff of Box Office are receiving training in how to use BSL.

The show opened at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich on February 13 before touring the UK and playing the Northcott on March 10 and 11.

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