PaddleBoat Theatre Company has joined forces with Exeter Deaf Academy to create an enriched production of ‘A Little Man’s Holiday’ using non-verbal communication and British Sign Language.

During a successful run of shows at Devon libraries last summer, PaddleBoat Theatre Company met many children with hearing impairments, Asperger’s and learning difficulties which inspired them to widen the show’s audience and make it more accessible.

During their Expressive Arts classes, Exeter Deaf Academy’s talented Year 7, 8 and 9 students improvised scenes and creatively adapted the play with visual jokes and louder sound effects incorporating British Sign Language (BSL) into the script.

Michael Smith from PaddleBoat Theatre said, ‘It has been an amazing opportunity to work with the Deaf Academy students and we have been thoroughly impressed by their enthusiasm, professionalism and creativity. Their input has made our original play even better. Having learnt some British Sign Language over the summer, and continuing to learn from the students, it is clear BSL is a beautiful language and really lends itself to theatre and performance. We can’t wait to show everyone what we have been up to.’

Deaf Academy students will take to the stage at Exeter Phoenix with a one-off performance for friends and family on 10th February, before PaddleBoat Theatre Company continues their run of shows during February half-term. This imaginative story of pirate adventure promises visual and sensory fun for families in an easy-going environment with break out space and a relaxed attitude to noise in the auditorium.

Exeter Deaf Academy’s English and Expressive Arts Teacher, Deb Thomas, said, ‘We have had a wonderful time working with PaddleBoat Theatre. It is great to see them wanting to make their shows more accessible to a wider audience by including sign supported dialogue and responsive audience engagement. The students have loved the collaboration and I hope more people have a chance to work with and attend PaddleBoat Theatre shows.’

Tickets for the public performances of ‘A Little Man’s Holiday’ are £5 including free entry for carers.

Tickets are on sale from Exeter Phoenix box office, by phoning 01392 667080 or online at