Learn British Sign Language at this year’s Drill Hall panto

Lincoln Drill Hall will be giving children the opportunity to learn British Sign language as they watch this year’s performance of Peter Pan.

For the first time at Lincoln Drill Hall, children with hearing difficulties will be able to share the ‘secret language’ with the world’s most famous fairy Tinkerbell.

Played by deaf Australian actress Phillippa Russell, Tinkerbell will be using sign language throughout the performance and giving other children in the audience a chance to learn.

Including sign language into the show is just one of a number of ways the Drill Hall is aiming to make their performances more accessible.

Each year, the pantomime also has a special autism-friendly performance with reduced sound levels, specially adapted lighting and the freedom to move in and out of the auditorium if needed.

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Philippa Russell, who plays Tinker Bell said: “Since I was young, I’ve always liked to create, tell and perform stories but I was told that being an actress would be difficult for me to achieve due to my disability.

“I’m currently the first deaf student to enrol on the Creative Arts (Drama) course at Deakin University and so far, I’ve been given great opportunities and I have already achieved so much – I’m glad that I get to prove some people wrong.

“I’d never even heard of a panto until I moved to London a couple of years back and now I’m playing Tinker Bell, a principal character in what will be a wonderful pantomime of Peter Pan. As this is my first ever panto, I’m really excited to be taking to the stage at Lincoln Drill Hall and I’m looking forward getting to know my fellow cast and crew members over the next month. I can’t wait to teach everyone British Sign Language.”

We’ve been able to let the audience play such an important part in the story and learn some British Sign Language at the same time

Lincoln Drill Hall’s CEO Chris Kirkwood said: “In the original play by JM Barrie, Tinker Bell can only be understood by people who are familiar with the language of fairies. In most versions, this is the sound of a tinkling bell, but the JMP panto team found a way of making it even more magical.

“By having Philippa use sign language on stage, some members of the audience will be understand her too, making this a very special Christmas panto for them.

“The other characters will also use sign language to communicate with Tinker Bell, and the audience will have the chance to learn the language and join in too.

“I’m really pleased that, with Philippa’s help, we’ve been able to let the audience play such an important part in the story and learn some British Sign Language at the same time.”

Tickets start at £12 and are available from www.lincolndrillhall.com