Words Apart

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“Engrossing drama, Fringe at its best

– Lyn Freeman, Capital Times, click here to read the full review: Engrossing drama

“Impossible not to care”

– John Smythe, Theatreview,  click here to read the full review: Impossible not to care

Words Apart is a powerful play combining two languages, spoken English and New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL).

Words Apart was originally performed at BATS theatre in the 2009 Fringe Festival, playing to full houses and receiving glowing reviews.  Words Apart was asked to perform again for the New Zealand Deaf Short Film Festival at the Illot Theatre in the Wellington Town Hall.

Words Apart was the first successful devised production in New Zealand to combine New Zealand Sign Language and spoken English, merging these two languages in a natural and effective way without the use of interpreters. The play has been understood and enjoyed equally by audiences comprised of both hearing and Deaf individuals.

The storyline is inspired by Romeo and Juliet, focusing on the concepts of love and hate; two powerful emotions which are universal across all cultures and languages. Words Apart follows the story of a young hearing girl who falls in love with a Deaf boy and the struggles they face in contemporary society. This creates a truly unique piece of theatre, which shows that love is more than words.

Creating Words Apart is just as dramatic as the storyline itself. Working in a rehearsal room with five actors, all from different cultural backgrounds and some without knowledge of Sign Language, means that everyone has had to work through the barriers of the different languages.

The play is the brainchild of Nicola, who learned to sign when she was studying at university. “We want to portray Deaf culture not as a disability but as a difference that can be celebrated, included and equal. New Zealand Sign Language and the English language are equal and integral parts of the play.”

“The story reflects prejudices, hearing vs deaf and vice versa. One of the most potent parts of the play is where the two young lovers argue, putting real and emotional barriers between them, and the silence from Ryan, who’s deaf, screams at you louder than Jules’ frustrated yelling. Powerful stuff.” Iona McNaughton, Arts Access Aotearoa.