We are celebrating the birth of a future star as student Molly followed up winning a national drama competition by showcasing her acting talent in a drama masterclass at the prestigious mac Birmingham over the weekend of 18/19 June.

Molly is a winner of this year’s National Deaf Children’s Society’s (NDCS) ‘Raising the Bar’ competition. The project strives to raise expectations of what Deaf children and young people can achieve within dance, drama and music. Molly was selected out of contestants from across the country by highly acclaimed arts industry Deaf professionals. Molly’s prize was to take part in a masterclass with co-founder and Artistic Director of Deafinitely Theatre, Paula Garfield and professional Deaf actor and BSL Zone regular William Grint.

NDCS Inclusive Activities Implementation Manager, Bryony Parkes, said, “We were absolutely bowled over by the talent and enthusiasm of the deaf young people at the showcase. It is really important that deaf children and young people get the same opportunities to take part in the same activities as their hearing friends and siblings. We hope competition winners, such as Molly, will go on to great things as well as demonstrate to their peers exactly what they are capable of.”

We have been nurturing Molly and other students’ dramatic flair through their regular Expressive Arts classes. Working with the local PaddleBoat Theatre Company the students have become accomplished actors performing to hundreds at Exeter Phoenix Theatre and are now considering a tour of the South West.

Exeter Deaf Academy Expressive Arts Teacher, Deb Thomas, said, “Drama is important for Deaf students as it helps them understand English text in a practical way. British Sign Language lends itself to theatrical performances as it’s a beautiful and poetic style of communication which makes a huge impact on the audience.”

“When I started teaching Molly drama I could see she had natural ability, so when I was contacted about Raising the Bar, Molly was an obvious choice. I’m so proud of her for winning and it would be fantastic if she became a Deaf actor in the future as there are not many similar role models for Deaf young people.”
Molly only recently discovered her acting passion having only joined us in September 2015. Previously attending a mainstream school, Molly has benefited from the specialist Deaf education we provide. She is now more confident and has found a sense of belonging thanks to the bilingual, English and British Sign Language, community.

Molly’s mum, Beth Thomas, said, “Although Molly is profoundly Deaf she has always enjoyed learning new skills. Thanks to the Deaf Academy she has had the opportunity to discover and develop a passion for acting. She has thoroughly enjoyed the sessions with PaddleBoat Theatre and found drama helps her express herself in a way that she hadn’t been able to before. Her family are so proud of her achievements and I would like to thank her expressive arts teacher, Deb, for all her encouragement and making Molly’s dream come true.”

Molly said, “The masterclass was amazing. I felt nervous but also excited – the first day I couldn’t eat I had so many butterflies! I took part in lots of drama activities including acting out a phone conversation between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. William (Grint) helped me to polish my skills in movement, emotions and facial expressions. I was very nervous for the showcase finale but William helped me to practice and soon I was ready to face the audience. I’ve really improved my acting over the weekend and I would love to study drama in the future.”