From award- winning writer Alun Saunders, Deaf & Fabulous Productions and Taking Flight Theatre comes Fow, a heartfelt, funny and entertaining drama rehearsed and recorded especially for online audiences.
This trilingual piece by Saunders, (whose previous credits include Pobol Y Cwm and Best Playwright at the Wales Theatre Awards 2016 for A Good Clean Heart)is presented in association with The Welfare Ystradgynlais and Theatrau Sir Gâr, with tickets available from both venues for all performances between April 29 and May 5.
FOW – A Trilingual Play For Digital Stages
Lissa is defensive, deaf and failing university – the last thing she needs right now is to fall in love. Siôn is a sheltered Pontardawe boy with rock star dreams, desperately in love and about to have his heart broken. Meanwhile, Josh wants to beat the end of level Boss. With humour, honesty and breakdowns in communication, Fow asks audiences how we fall in love when we don’t hear each other and finds there is always a way if you just look hard enough.
The show intersperses Cymraeg, English and British Sign Language and is based on an idea by Deaf actress Stephanie Back, who also plays the role of Lissa. The cast of three is completed by Jed O’Reilly and Taking Flight regular Ioan Gwyn, both of whom are known for work on S4C programmes Stwnsh Sadwrn and Pobol Y Cwm.
How Actress Found Cultural Identity Through Sign Language
Steph explains a little more about how why she felt this story needed to be told:
“My passion for Fow comes from my personal story. I was born hearing and became profoundly Deaf at 15; I couldn’t sign, and lip-reading was impossible. I was without language. At university I started to find my cultural identity through language; I found a community where sign language was a first language, I found my identity, where I belonged.
“The Deaf community; the language we were using (BSL) didn’t have the same rights as spoken English. There was power in our hands and a passion to fight for our right to be seen. Moving back to Wales and exploring my Welsh heritage led me to discover that Welsh has suffered a similar treatment to BSL. I felt this had to be explored, the politics, the oppression, the history – different but the same.
“The transformative power of language and the importance of this in our identity is this projects stimulus. We need a positive communication story now more than ever”.
Experience Fow Through Different Languages
Fow puts hearing audiences in a position that will be very familiar to Deaf audiences – Lissa uses BSL, Siôn mainly uses Welsh and Josh mainly uses English – so only someone who understands all three languages will follow every word of the play. Audiences will be sent a link to watch the show, with a live Q&A following selected performances, plus a link to rewatch the show with captions for those who want to catch anything they might have missed first time around.
Director Elise Davison explains: “It’s quite a leap of faith for audiences to take to choose to watch something they may not completely understand, but the feedback we’ve had from test audiences during the development of the piece has been amazing – from Hearing audience members, Deaf audience members Welsh speakers, non-Welsh speakers alike, everyone has commented on how they followed what was happening, and that when they didn’t, they still enjoyed it – that it gave them a new perspective.
“The actors working on the show are all so good at what they do that they convey the meaning with much more than the words. So, whilst Alun has written us a beautiful script, he has written it knowing that parts of the audience won’t be following every word, and as a result it’s a really visual piece – which is of course really unusual for digital theatre”.
Fow was set to be a theatre piece touring last year. COVID19 put a temporary stop to those plans so the companies set to reimagining the piece for a digital platform. The script has been re-written to present the story as a series of real-time overlapping, interspersed monologues. Fow explores language, culture, communication, identity, relationships with a specific focus on Welsh culture and the Welsh language can intersect with Deaf culture and BSL.
- Fow is suitable for audiences aged 14+ (due to strong language and sex references). You can find out more about Fow at takingflighttheatre.org.uk/fow and tickets can be booked online on a ‘Pay What You Can’ basis from Theatrau Sir Gâr or The Welfare Ystradgynlais.