12 February 2014
Inspired by the Monty Python's 'Four Yorkshiremen' sketch Writer/ director Charlie Swinbourne's sign language version for a deaf cast, became a Youtube hit in 2007. The cast of 'grumpy deafies' are now preparing for a day out in Blackpool for their third get together.
Five years after we last worked together, the four actors who play the Four Deaf Yorkshiremen were reunited last week for two days of rehearsals in London!
In 2007 and 2008, we made two low-budget short comedies which featured the men telling stories in sign language. The first two were set in a pub and in a house, but in a new adventure, which will be filmed next month, the men will arrive in a bigger place - Blackpool!
For the rehearsals, the original four actors - John Smith, Matt Kirby, Ilan Dwek and Jonathan Reid - were joined by three new characters, who are played by Matthew Gurney, Sean Richards and Adam Bassett.
So, what did we learn from the rehearsals? On both days, we began with a read-through, where we all sat down and read through the whole script. Sometimes we stopped to talk about the different scenes, and what the characters say in them. Then we got out of our chairs and the actors got up on their feet to act out each scene!
After six months of working on the script, seeing the scenes being acted out gave me the chance to look at how the script, which is written in English, translates into sign language. As a director, during the rehearsals I was also thinking about which angles we could film the actors from.
During the rehearsals, we often talked as a group about how we could make lines funnier and more descriptive visually. A big help was that on the second day of rehearsals, we were joined by Deaf actress Jean St Clair, who suggested signs that would match our script more closely and also spotted signs that could be improved!
We had a great two days, and now we are all looking forward to the filming in March - and hoping for good weather!
The production would like to thank Sadler’s Wells Creative Learning Department and Diorama Arts Studios for their provision of studio space.
This film is being produced by Mutt and Jeff Pictures.
Four Deaf Yorkshiremen go to Blackpool will be shown on the BSL Zone website (www.bslzone.co.uk). Keep an eye on their site for details!