Free but booking essential. Contact Dr Úna Kealy for information
WIT project explores ableism and gender discrimination towards Irish Deaf women
The collaboration with Dublin Theatre of the Deaf seeks to challenge and change Irish society’s treatment of people of various abilities and genders
Students and staff from Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT)’s School of Humanities, and Dublin Theatre of the Deaf investigate Teresa Deevy’s ballet ‘Possession’, a work never yet performed, to explore and analyse ableism and gender discrimination towards the Irish Deaf community and Deaf woman, in theatre practice research project Lyrical Bodies.
Lyrical Bodies, in development throughout 2022, considers how Deaf women were dispossessed of status, achievement, and opportunity by the introduction of oralism in Deaf education in Ireland in the 1950s, and how Deaf women’s oppression and resistance to the usurping of power, status, and human rights continues in 21st century Ireland. The project explores how Deaf women continue to experience and challenge intersecting discriminations of ableism and gender-based disempowerment today.
The project builds on established relationships and research conducted by Dr Una Kealy and Dr Kate McCarthy from WIT’s Department of Arts, who are currently editing a collection of essays considering the work of Teresa Deevy entitled ‘Active Speech: Critical Perspectives on Teresa Deevy’.
“How we experience the world shapes who and what we choose to be. Lyrical Bodies, in its exploration and sharing of Deaf women’s experiences of intersectional discrimination, seeks to challenge and change for the better Irish society’s framing, treatment, inclusion, and respect for people of various abilities and genders. Lyrical Bodies aims to expose casual, erroneous, and discriminatory assumptions related to disability using Deaf history and culture to reveal and interrogate how systemic issues and attitudes insidiously perpetrate discriminatory behaviour,” explained Dr Kealy.
As part of the project, theatre makers Amanda Coogan, Lianne Quigley, and Alvean Jones from Dublin Theatre of the Deaf, and Irish Sign Language interpreter and theatre maker Caoimhe Coburn-Gray, will join staff and students in WIT on 18 and 19 February, and again in June, to explore themes of respect and inclusion, and to consider how deafened playwright Teresa Deevy reflected on the socio-cultural environment of the mid-twentieth century. Lyrical Bodies consists of five interrelated components including practical theatre studies workshops and public and academic presentations reflecting on this collaboration and the artwork produced.
Dr Kealy is a lecturer in Theatre Studies and English on WIT’s three-year Bachelor of Arts (Hons) which from 2022 is a joint honours degree. Discussing the important partnership with Dublin Theatre of the Deaf, she said, “WIT is excited to work with Dublin Theatre of the Deaf which is, for us, the most interesting and innovative Irish theatre company within the Irish theatre landscape currently. The fact that we get to pool resources, expertise, enthusiasm, and research offers an enormous advantage to everyone involved. Our Theatre Studies students within the BA Arts degree, in particular, will really benefit from the collaboration.”
Funded by the WIT Equality, Diversity and Inclusion fund and the WIT Research Connexions fund, Lyrical Bodies will contribute to increasing awareness, inclusion, and respect for those who experience and express themselves differently to hearing communities and will enhance awareness and respect for artwork of various disciplines as created by those whose experience of the world is sensorially different.
Beginning the sign for ‘Ireland’ from Talk Real Fine, Just Like a Lady, Amanda Coogan in collaboration with Dublin Theatre of the Deaf (Peacock Theatre), photo: Patrick Redmond.