Social Media

Jenny Sealey - Graeae: Self-Raising Interview

Award-winning Artistic Director of Graeae, Jenny Sealey has spent a lifetime championing stories by Deaf and disabled artists. Now she takes to the stage to tell her own story. 

Unravelling the past and facing the future, 
Self-Raising is a blisteringly honest, laugh-out-loud one-woman show about growing up deaf in a family with secrets.

With the show on tour including a stop at Warwick Arts Centre on Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th March we caught up with Jenny to discuss the show.

Where did your arts career begin? 
I started my career as an actor mid 80’s with a tiny Youth Opportunity Scheme theatre company called Visible. Then I auditioned for Graaee’s production A Private View and it was at this audition I met my tribe! 

How would you describe the work of Graeae to anyone unfamiliar with the company? 
Graeae places deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people centre stage in bold, radical and awesome productions. Graeae engages, informs and entertains taking audiences on a rollercoaster of emotions. 

Why did you feel now was the time to tell your story? 
I had no intention of telling my story. I was going to direct and adaptation of Anne Fine’s book Flour Babies. I was working with a group of artists and told them some of my back story. They said, Jenny – you are a flour baby, your story needs to be in this and you need to be in it’. I said ‘absolutely not’ but Kate Cross, the director of The Egg (in Bath) said ‘no you absolutely are’. It all snowballed from there. I am loving being back on the stage after 31 years of directing! 

How did you approach bringing this show to the stage? 
I co-wrote it with Mike Kenny and had an intense R&D, and my son was part of the creative team, because he is part of the narrative. It has been lovely working with him.  I worked with director Lee Lyford and Assistant director Daryl Jackson. Their approach was to let me try things and they would shape it and ask questions about intention and emotional landscape. Daryl also consulted on the BSL translation and Chris Champion consulted on embedding additional audio description into the text.  

How do you prepare for a show? 
I do a vocal and physical warm-up. I iron my costume as part of the ritual and then nerves kick in. Stage nerves are weird things – with me it is about needing a wee every five minutes until I go on.  

If you could have dinner with 3 famous people, who would you invite and why? 
Ken Robinson  - famous educationalist and activist. I did know him, and we have some unfinished conversations to have. Helen Keller because she was a socialist and kicked ass and Ian Dury. He was a Graeae patron but I never met him, but I have always been a fan.

What do you hope an audience takes away from seeing Self-Raising?
I want the audience to think about their family secrets and if they are better out than in. Also to ask any burning questions about their family before it is too late.

Where can people see the show and follow your career beyond?
Self-Raising visits ...

Mercury Theatre – 7-9th March 8pm
Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, 12-13th March 7.45pm
Nottingham Playhouse 14th March 7.30pm
Tobacco Factory, Bristol 19-20th March 7.30pm
Leeds Playhouse 22-23rd March 7.30pm

You can find out more about the show and Graeae's work by visiting their website

Post a Comment


Theme by STS