Drama, Film and Children’s Shows – Edinburgh Deaf Festival Is For Everyone

Nadia Nadarajah (centre) with fellow deaf performers Craig McCulloch (left) and Petre Dobr.

The second annual Edinburgh Deaf Festival – part of the Fringe – is underway with more than 60 events for anyone and everyone. 

The 2023 line-up features drama, comedy, film, exhibitions, entertainment for children and young people plus workshops and other activities. Running until 20 August it’s designed to appeal to hearing as well as deaf audiences. 

Among those taking part in the festival, which is organised by Edinburgh-based charity Deaf Action, are Craig McCulloch and Petre Dobre. Craig is a well-known name in the world of deaf entertainment and will be one of the big attractions in the Deaf Action cabaret and improv events.  

He said: “There’s such a lot to enjoy at this year’s festival, it’s brilliant. It’s a superb opportunity to put deaf culture at the heart of Edinburgh’s festivals. Come along, try it out, it’s going to be loads of fun.” 

Nadia Nadarajah, performer and Edinburgh Deaf Festival Ambassador, added: “Since last year, we’ve witnessed the remarkable growth of deaf artists and their work. This festival has played a vital role in building their confidence.

“This year, I hope for a greater recognition of the skills possessed by deaf artists worldwide, and an increase in new audiences venturing into the realm of deaf culture and arts.” 

Petre is presenting a fun new family show (ideal for all aged 3+) where sports really come to life as he dives into the worlds of swimming, cycling and skateboarding to show what fun sports can be. 

He said: “It doesn’t matter what your age or your taste in entertainment – we’ve got shows, talks, tours, films and workshops for you. And there’s loads for every age. My show aims to be just as joyous for parents as well as children, with everybody getting the chance to join in.” 

The festival gives deaf people access to the arts in a new and exciting way and allows others to discover the richness of deaf heritage, language and culture. 

Producing the 2023 festival on behalf of Edinburgh-based charity Deaf Action, is Glasgow multidisciplinary artist Jamie Rea who said: We want to welcome hearing audiences to explore and enjoy the amazing talent that the deaf community has to offer.  

“Not only this, but we want to offer a more inclusive festival experience for deaf people by establishing wider access options for mainstream shows. We have developed an ‘on demand’ service so people can request an interpreter or captioner for any show they want to enjoy during the Edinburgh festival season. 

“Our goal is to transform Edinburgh’s festival season into an inclusive one. Giving the deaf community greater access to mainstream festival spaces while also providing culturally specific events that celebrate the richness of our deaf culture.” 

Highlights include: 

  • Oddo the StarlessStand-up comedian David Sands debuts his stage production of a dark visual story from an unknown dimension, based on short films he made during lockdown.   
  • Once Upon A Raindrop: A funny, cheerful walk-through performance for wee ones and their grown-ups with lots of sensory games and… magic! Fun for ages 1 to 3.  
  • Jennifer Jordan, Improv Comedy: Performers from a workshop with Jennifer will showcase their comedy skills in this improvised performance full of laughter and spontaneity.  
  • Fàilte gu BSL (Welcome to BSL): Evie Waddell’s new show explores her two linguistic identities: Gaelic, and deafness. It’s a welcome for deaf people to Scottish Gaelic culture, which often hasn’t been accessible, and an invitation for hearing people to engage in BSL. 
  • Amy Murray – Red Aphrodite: Exploring the awkward side of femininity – hilarious and relatable. Inspired by Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues, Amy aims to break down barriers and taboos surrounding womanhood. Amy appeared in Netflix’s 2022 fantasy The Witcher: Blood Origin alongside Sir Lenny Henry.  
  • Deaf Action Presents: The Gavin Lilley Show One of the deaf community’s best-known entertainers, Gavin returns to the festival with a stand-up show aimed at hearing and deaf audiences. 
  • Clowning Workshop with Elf & Duffy: A special workshop to emphasise the power of clowning and mime as a performance tool. From Elf Lyons and Brian Duffy, the duo behind the Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Show nominee Heist

Philip Gerrard, CEO of organisers Deaf Action, said: “We’re hosting over 60 events and performances, each a testament to the rich diversity and talent within the deaf community.

“Our vision is for Edinburgh to have a festival season that offers deaf people the best of both worlds; mainstream festivals which are accessible to the deaf community, plus a week of deaf culturally specific events. Integration alongside a cultural celebration gives the deaf community the opportunity to sample and enjoy the festival season in its entirety.” 

  • An interpreters and captioners on demand service allows deaf people to arrange an interpreter or captioner for shows that are not accessible. 
  • See the Edinburgh Deaf Festival website at www.edinburghdeaffestival.com
  • Tickets available through the Fringe box office at https://www.edfringe.com.