A day for thinking about accessibility and the Edinburgh Festival

Friday 23 August 
Forest Fringe
 Out of the Blue Drill Hall

As we’ve been putting the Forest Fringe programme together over the last year we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the things we didn’t even notice we weren’t doing before. We’ve had the opportunity to begin to consider the festival from the perspective of deaf and disabled artists and audiences, and in doing so begin to think about ways of making them more welcome.

In the past we were intimidated by the challenge of making Forest Fringe a more accessible environment and embarrassed by our lack of understanding of what that would require. We perhaps believed that any means of making our programme more accessible would be prohibitively expensive for a young, unfunded, held-together-by-tape organisation like Forest Fringe. And undoubtedly this inertia was compounded by the fact that no one around the festival was challenging or supporting us to think about what we might be doing better for deaf and disabled people.

Over the last year, through conversations with people including Solar Bear, Live Art UK, the British Council and Escalator East to Edinburgh, we have realised that what you need to start thinking seriously about accessibility, more than money or expertise, is simply the will to do so. We have asked questions and we have asked for help, and we have been overwhelmed by the support we have been offered.

And out of those conversations and that support we have put together a day that is more a beginning than an end. A day to think and talk about the challenges of making your work or venue or your creative process more accessible. A day to welcome audiences to Forest Fringe who won’t have been able to come before. A day to learn about some of the exciting projects involving deaf and disabled artists that are already happening, at the festival and elsewhere. And perhaps most importantly, a day to listen, and through listening to discover more of the basic things we and others might do to open our work up to deaf and disabled artists and audiences, at the festival and beyond.


Shifting Disability Debates on Access To The Festival

A conversation co-hosted by Forest Fringe and Escalator East to Edinburgh
Drill Hall Main Space

Forest Fringe and Escalator invite you to a morning spent trying to make things better. Bringing together deaf, disabled and non disabled people from across the festival, whether they be artists, audiences or producers, to think collectively about the simple things that we all might be doing to make our venues, our shows and our creative processes more accessible. We hope this might be a space in which to begin to outline the ways in which even the smallest venue or the youngest company can make a real sea-change in their approach to disability.

BSL Interpreted Shows

With the generous support of the Live Art UK network, we have been able to bring together SLIs to work with a number of artists across the Forest Fringe programme.

The shows included are:
12.15pm Hannah Jane Walker & Chris Thorpe – I Wish I was Lonely 

2pm Ira Brand – A Cure For Ageing

5pm Ross Sutherland – Stand-by for Tape Back-Up

6.30pm Tim Crouch & Andy Smith – what happens to the hope at the end of the evening

9.15pm Action Hero – Hoke’s Bluff

Information about and tickets for all these shows can be found through the Forest Fringe Edinburgh website.

The Deaf and Hearing Ensemble Sharing
Drill Hall Main Space

The Deaf and Hearing Ensemble are a group of deaf and hearing actors, directors, theatre makers, writers and artists coming together to meet each other and tell each other stories.

They will be doing a week-long residency at Forest Fringe every day from the 19th – 23rd August and on this Friday they will present a public sharing of ideas and experiments created over the week. We’ll be making new work in response to contemporary writing. Our week-long residency will include an appearance at Northern Stage St Stephens within the Great Bloody Border Ballad Project on Wednesday 21st Aug.

Some of the things they are interested in exploring include: What role do words play in our society? Have we chosen words and structured language to the detriment of a more genuine communication? How can we communicate with each other and our audiences? Can we – deaf and hearing actors, artists and audience – come together to make experimental theatre?

If you want to get involved email or send them a video message at forest.residency@gmail.com or dhensemble@gmail.com 

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