Philip Gerrard, Deaf Mimo, Nadia Nadarajah, and Gavin Lilley outside the Deaf Action's premises for the launch of Edinburgh Deaf Festival.

The first Edinburgh Deaf Festival gets underway


Today sees the launch of the first ever Edinburgh Deaf Festival, with a programme of more than 100 performances over eight days.

Among those at the launch were the award-winning mime artist DeafMimo, Mae Al-Kalamchi from the children’s magic show Once Upon A Raindrop and deaf comedian Gavin Lilley. They were joined by deaf actor, BSL user and Festival Ambassador Nadia Nadarajah, who has performed worldwide and appeared in multiple TV and theatre productions.

Deaf Action is proud to be organising the festival, and we hope it will bring deaf talent and culture into the mainstream. The whole event, which runs from 12-19 August, is designed to appeal to deaf and hearing audiences alike.

Gavin Lilley said:
“It’s an honour to have been asked to come to Edinburgh to take part in the festival. I’m really looking forward to sharing my experiences of navigating the hearing world. I hope my show will give people some insights, perhaps a little education – but above everything else that it will entertain.”

Once Upon A Raindrop is a walk-through experience especially for children.

Mae Al-Kalamchi said:
“We are very much looking forward to welcoming audiences to see Once Upon a Raindrop – it’s an amazing show and will be huge fun for children.”

DeafMimo (aka Stephen Robinson) is renowned for his comical movement, funny facial expressions, which delight children and adults alike in his family-friendly show.

Stephen Robinson said:
“Mime is much more embedded in the deaf than the hearing community, and I’m hoping to take it to the widest possible audience. This is my first time in Edinburgh, and being here for the festival is very exciting.”

Edinburgh Deaf Festival is being run alongside the Fringe and is supported by the Edinburgh Fringe Society. We are also making Fringe shows more accessible through a variety of initiatives including the piloting of an interpreter on demand service. This will allow deaf people to choose the performances they want to see, when they want to see them. It will start small and hopefully grow in the years ahead.

Nadia Nadarajah said:
“I’m honoured to be the Ambassador for the Edinburgh Deaf Festival – it is special to me as a deaf actor and creative artist. It’s important to recognise deaf works in the arts world. This festival is for everyone and will bring communities together, showcasing the best in deaf talent and our rich deaf culture. We can’t wait to celebrate this together.”

Deaf Action Chief Executive Philip Gerrard said:
“This has been three years in the planning, so it’s great that it’s finally here. I’ve been watching the rehearsals and that’s made me even more excited about what’s to come. “We’re really looking forward to putting on great shows for audiences, and also to providing opportunities for deaf performers – giving them the chance to entertain at the first festival of its kind to be held in Scotland.”

Performances will be at Deaf Action, 49 Albany Street, Edinburgh, and other venues across the city.