“Audiences can expect to see a fantastically skilled cast of 3 women, and 1 non-binary person in a collaborative ensemble telling, for the first time, the stories of deaf people’s diverse experiences of domestic violence.”
The play was conceived after the rise in domestic violence reported in the Covid-19 pandemic. Garfield explains,
“During lockdown, I couldn’t help but see the numerous news reports showing the rapidly increasing rates of domestic abuse due to the impact of the pandemic. The problems were exacerbated by people unable to go out or to work and feeling trapped in their own homes. This prompted me to post on Facebook to see if anyone would come forward about their own experiences and being a member of the deaf community, people knew me, and felt they could entrust me with their stories. After speaking with several women and non-binary people, I invited some of them to be involved in a period of research and development with the actors, and I asked survivors to oversee the script.”
Garfield and her team have returned to the rehearsal room after the uncertainty of the pandemic to prepare Everyday,
“It’s fantastic and incredibly exciting to be back in the rehearsal room! This said, it also comes with a sense of anxiety having not directed for 2 years. It feels a bit like riding a bike, a little nerve-racking and wobbly at first but it’s quickly all coming back to me and feeling much more normal as we all get used to it again!”
As the play touches on sensitive issues, there are important messages Garfield hopes audiences will take away,
“I really want our audiences to be struck by this production and the vulnerability of deaf women and non-binary people facing domestic abuse. I want people to see the vital need for equal rights as their hearing counterparts when it comes to accessing domestic abuse support services. A lot of the services across the UK are not currently accessible to deaf people; SignHealth is the only deaf-led organisation that provides support for deaf adults who experience domestic abuse. However, they can only support those who live in England, and I think this is mainly due to funding.”
“We are lacking in refuges that accept members of the deaf community, as many will not house them due to “health and safety reasons”, which takes us right back to the issue of deaf rights, which in this context, seem to be almost non-existent. We are also in need of more deaf Independent Domestic Violence Advocates, with currently very few trained practitioners expected to offer support to those all over the country. I believe we have a responsibility to create more training opportunities and to encourage more deaf people to pursue this career pathway where services are so desperately needed.”
Education and Empowerment
Garfield believes the play has the ability to both educate and empower its different audiences,
“I believe Everyday has poignant messages for both deaf and hearing audiences. I hope that Everyday will empower a deaf audience, making them aware of some of the more nuanced signs of abuse, help break the stigma surrounding abuse, and raise awareness of support services. I hope that deaf audiences will feel seen and understood, and for those who may have experienced domestic abuse to know that they are not alone.”
“I want a hearing audience to understand that anyone can experience domestic abuse and that for deaf people there are additional barriers. The community have faced historical oppression by means of language, education, and access to services and many of these difficulties still exist today. To drive improvements, we need to raise awareness, and that is a part of what I hope Everyday will achieve.”
Everyday is at Northern Stage o 24 and 25 June. Both shows are British Sign Language interpreted.
Tickets are available on the Northern Stage website, and start at £11. Deafinitely Theatre is hosting a post-show Q&A session after the 24 June performance, which is free for ticket holders.