Salonica, theatre for Deaf and hearing audiences
Arts Access Aotearoa
MEDIA RELEASE: Equal Voices Arts
1 February 2018
Award-winning theatre company Equal Voices Arts brings its new multi-lingual production, Salonica, to the Auckland Fringe Festival from 22 to 24 February at Q Theatre. It will then play at Hamilton’s Playhouse Theatre on 1 and 2 March. After a tour to Europe last year, Salonica has played in Christchurch and Wellington’s Circa Theatre.
Salonica is performed in New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL), English and Serbian. Its recent European tour marked the first time NZSL and a Deaf professional actor (Shaun Fahey) had featured on stages in Serbia and Montenegro.
This groundbreaking piece of original theatre criss-crosses languages and cultures to share a vital story of friendship and communication against the odds with the backdrop of the first World War.
The project is led by theatre director Dr Laura Haughey, a senior lecturer in Theatre Studies at the University of Waikato and Artistic Director at Equal Voices Arts. Laura has been working with an international team of Deaf and hearing artists from New Zealand, Serbia and the UK.
“Salonica is accessible to Deaf and hearing audiences wherever it travels,” Laura says. “There’s no formal interpretation of the three languages, which means they are explored on stage with equal status. We are so pleased to be bringing the show home to New Zealand, and to have NZSL on stage, performed by a first-language Deaf performer.”
New Zealander Shaun Fahey is a Deaf actor in Salonica and his first language is NZSL. “I was really excited to take New Zealand Sign Language to European stages,” he says.
Shaun performed and toured New Zealand in Equal Voices Arts the award-winning production of At The End Of My Hands in 2016. Shaun also benefitted from training in Sign theatre in England by experienced Deaf theatre practitioner and choreographer Denise Armstrong.
Shaun performs alongside Mihailo Ladevac whose first language is Serbian. Mihailo, an actor for the National Theatre in Serbia, and Shaun have been working across three languages.
The team developed the piece at the University of Waikato, and worked alongside UK based Writers Guild award-winning dramaturg, Bill Hopkinson. The story centres on the friendship between a Serbian soldier and a Kiwi sapper, who has concealed his Deafness to join up.
“The idea for the piece was inspired by actual stories of Deaf soldiers who concealed their Deafness to go to war,” Bill says. “There were British, Irish and Australian examples and who knows, there may have been a Kiwi. So much Deaf history is now revealing itself to us as we become aware of its importance.”
Equal Voices Arts is committed to exploring the creative possibilities in making theatre accessible for diverse audiences. The company would like to thank the NZSL Fund and the University of Waikato for their support with this project.
IMPORTANT FOR DEAF READERS: Information about Salonica in NZSL can be found online.
Auckland Fringe Festival
Q Theatre, 22 – 24 February 2018
Playhouse Theatre, 1 and 2 March 2018