The Silent Approach

5 January 2023

by Helen Abbott
Scene Editor / Event & Artist Manager

As some of you may have already seen, I recently got the role of Guest Director working with the theatre company Separate Doors on a project called Directing Tomorrow’s Theatre.

I am absolutely thrilled and am really looking forward to the attachment which will run until mid-May next year.

Separate Doors is a theatre company whose aim is to increase the representation of people with learning disabilities and neurodivergent people in theatre, film and TV.

‘We are a platform for the work of vocational actors in the UK with learning disabilities and neurodivergencies.’

They work using the Silent Approach method developed by Artistic Director Vanessa Brooks:

‘The Silent Approach offers a way for non-disabled directors, actors, writers, and producers to include learning disabled actors and people with neurodivergencies in general audience programming… The Silent Approach is a way to remove one of the biggest barriers to equality in a rehearsal room – language.’

The role of the guest director for this project is much more than coming in, working on the script and directing a piece of theatre – it is a process of learning, mentorship, support, discovery and reflection. Prior to the week-long rehearsal period in May, the 3 guest directors will have a series of meetings with Vanessa Brooks (Artistic Director), Loz Kaye (Director of Sound) and Angela Gasparetto (Director of Movement) where we learn how to approach, use and apply the Silent Approach, work on the script and start the creative process including visual and aural storyboards to share with the actors to communicate the context and their role.

We had the first face to face workshop in November at the Lawrence Batley Theatre with the creative team and national ensemble, which was a joy. It is going to be a steep learning curve but the company is so incredibly supportive and I am excited to get started!

For those who are interested, there are plans for the performance to be live streamed – I will share more information closer to the date.

Photo credits: Ant Robling