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Ko Taku Reo

Region: Canterbury/Chatham Islands

Art form: Theatre

Project name: Toi Turi Youth Theatre Project

Creative name

Project information: Our creative’s theatre company has offered Ko Taku Reo Deaf Education Auckland Campus New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) accessible performances since 2004. Our primary school students have attended performances 2-4 times a year, mostly through Gift a Seat™ funding by the company. These opportunities have benefited our students greatly, exposing them to the arts and broadening their horizons. Providing an NZSL interpreter for the performances gives the children full access to a theatrical experience with the ability to follow the storyline and the characters. Our students have thoroughly enjoyed the shows, and these performances boost the students' confidence to talk about their experiences, leading to improvements in their language skills. This experience is also greatly beneficial for our Deaf staff; full understanding of the content of the story through NZSL allows Deaf staff to later model the language when supporting students in the classroom. 

This theatre performance project aims to build on the 2021 project. We wish to encourage Deaf students to see the value of regular involvement in the performing arts and have them be excited about performances becoming a staple in their arts curriculum. Supporting Deaf students to work collaboratively with their peers using NZSL is also a goal, enabling them to confidently express and celebrate their unique Deaf culture and strengthen their sense of identity and belonging. Our enrolled school students attend partner schools and join mainstream classes for their day-to-day education, while some students join performing arts classes based on the New Zealand Curriculum. This subject is developed and delivered from a hearing perspective, and our students aren’t able to fully access the subject. 

Deaf performing arts have a long, hidden history in New Zealand and are considered an important part of NZ Deaf culture. Through this project, we seek to continue providing our students with the opportunity to be taught in a relevant and authentic context using NZSL to learn a range of dramatic and performance skills so that they can produce high-quality performances from their own culturally Deaf perspective. The theatre company’s directors will use the stories and perspectives developed in the 2021 project as a platform for learning how Deaf students wish to express themselves creatively on stage and build on these concepts for the 2022 show. The partnership between the students and the directors from the theatre company will allow for deeper exploration of performance skills and storytelling in Deaf culture. Likewise, this project will further build teachers’ confidence and skillsets to lead drama activities during the project and after its completion. This project will also strengthen the bond between Ko Taku Reo students and their families, the Deaf community, and the theatre company.

Project starting: August 2022

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