Our vision is to make theatre that opens doors to new understandings shared across communities, cultures and generations.
Red Earth creates theatre that captures the heart and challenges the mind. We generate a different voice and energy on stage. We are pioneers of integrated theatre and develop new techniques for accessible storytelling that test convention and advance inclusive practice. We work in two languages: Sign Language – British Sign Language (BSL) and Sign Supported English (SSE) and English – and aim to use creative captioning and audio description to enhance access. We make theatre for children and families.
Central to our work is the idea of collaboration with people, places and communities as much as with artists and companies.
We are a devising company, committed to many different voices on stage; to a multitude of stories, not a single story; to Deaf, disabled, and diverse artists and audiences, especially those who are marginalised and disenfranchised.
Sign integrated theatre
In Red Earth Theatre shows, actors perform in both sign language and English. There are lots of different ways they do this so that hearing and Deaf audiences can understand and enjoy a performance together without anyone feeling left out.
British Sign Language (BSL)* is the preferred language of many Deaf people. Our approach is to use a mixture of sign languages and techniques, including BSL, SSE and Visual Vernacular (VV). Through this method of Total Communication, we can reach audiences with a broad range of communication needs: Deaf, hearing, hard of hearing, learning disabled, people whose home language is not English and so on.
Regardless of their access needs, children find integrated theatre vibrant, dynamic and beguiling. They love it. For hearing audiences, the experience of simultaneous sign language and English is rich. The effect can seem like an extension of acting technique that is pleasing both to the eye and the ear.
It is worth bearing in mind that many people have never experienced integrated theatre. For Deaf theatre-goers, there may be an expectation of seeing a play made for hearing audiences with access provided by a BSL interpreter at the side of the stage. Increasingly though, Deaf audiences – especially younger ones – find this latter approach limited because they miss so much of the overall experience of a show by following the interpreter at the side rather than the action and imagery on stage.
British Sign Language: a visual language that uses hand shapes, facial expression, gestures and body language. BSL is a complete language with a unique vocabulary, construction and grammar.
Sign Supported English: uses signs from BSL but follows the word order of English.
Visual Vernacular: a theatrical and physical form of storytelling with strong body movements, signs, gestures and facial expressions. VV draws on cinematic ideas like close-ups, images dissolving into new images etc.
Total communication: makes use of a number of modes of communication in theatre including metaphor, symbol, costume, set, lighting, auditory, signed, oral, written.
Founded in 1999, Red Earth Theatre is a Company Limited by Guarantee and became a Registered Charity in 2010. Red Earth has been an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) since 2012 with a remit to tour inclusive theatre nationally.
Based in the East Midlands, Red Earth has established a reputation for touring theatre and the development of drama projects for children, young people and communities.
At the forefront of collaboration and partnership working, Red Earth Theatre has established long term partnerships with local authorities, national and regional agencies, education and community groups as well as with arts organisations and other theatre companies.
Red Earth is a leading company in the development of inclusive touring theatre. Our focus on inclusive work for young and family audiences, which tours to small scale, rural and community venues across the country, is unique. Over the last decade, with co-producing partners, Red Earth has modelled the success and value of bringing inclusion into mainstream theatre contexts.
We have created new inclusive theatre works in BSL, SSE and English, with integrated casts of Deaf, disabled and hearing performers. Our work explores the space between languages and communities. When audiences see our plays they are invited into a creative world where the ideas and experiences of different communities, using different languages, have come together to create a new artistic experience for all.