Solar Bear is a theatre company that does things differently. Inclusion and collaboration are at the heart of our mission. We work with deaf and hearing actors, theatre makers, artists and young people. We reach out to those often excluded from the arts. Working more inclusively and collaboratively makes us think in radically different ways. It shapes who we work with. It inspires us to play with new ways of storytelling. It influences the stories we tell, and where and how we tell them.
Jonathan is a theatre director and writer, specialising in new writing and work for young people. He was Associate Director at Soho Theatre for nine years, where he set up and ran the company’s education and outreach programme. He was Artistic Director at Polka Theatre, one of the few theatres in the UK dedicated to work for children, from 2007-2013. Before joining Solar Bear in 2017 he was Artistic Director of Pegasus Theatre, Oxford.
Jonathan was a fellow with the Clore Leadership Programme 2005/06 and a board member of Deafinitely Theatre for eight years.
Although Angela started in the commercial sector she quickly moved to working in the third sector where she enjoyed a long career. She subsequently trained as an actor and then became a General Manager in 2001, joining Solar Bear in 2014.
Community Engagement Manager
With a background of stage management within new writing theatre companies, Victoria’s interest in creating accessible theatre for wider audiences led to her working with Solar Bear. As Community Engagement Officer, Victoria works with both industry and training organisations to encourage access into training and the profession for deaf young people, deaf artists and performance interpreters.
When not with Solar Bear, Victoria is a Communication Support Worker for deaf students and hopes to start her Sign Language Interpreter training in the near future.
Digital Development Manager
Felix helps develop and spread a range of digital stories near and far. This includes promoting Solar Bear productions, projects, films, photography and digital art produced by groups and individuals.
Felix has over 250 professional film and TV credits, has developed bespoke digital products working as the Creative Director at Bolster and currently works part time lecturing at Glasgow Clyde College.
Trainee Workshop Leader
Brooklyn graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) – BA Performance BSL & English in July 2018. She is now a freelance performer & workshop leader.
Brooklyn was a member of Deaf Youth Theatre during her teenage years and is now there as a workshop leader. She believes it is important to be a positive role model to the young participants who are there today and to be able to lead them from experience. She hopes to offer them sources of inspiration and allow them to realise their own path.
Solar Bear was set up in 2002 by Gerry Ramage and Deborah Andrews. The company’s founding principles were to create exciting, innovative theatre with a strong social commitment. From the outset, ground-breaking, multi-disciplinary theatre went hand-in-hand with an extensive programme of outreach, participation and engagement with marginalised communities.
A key milestone in the company’s history was 2008, when it established Deaf Youth Theatre, a year-round youth theatre for young deaf people in Glasgow and beyond. This led the company to focus increasingly on working with the deaf community in Scotland. Our track record in this area includes:
- Playing a crucial role to establish the BA Performance in BSL and English at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) – the first degree course in the UK for deaf actors
- Setting up Deaf Theatre Clubs and Deaf Awareness Training with major theatres across Scotland
- Producing and touring high-quality, ambitious and critically acclaimed work showcasing deaf and hearing professional performers, for example 2018’s touring production of Shaun Tan’s The Arrival.
What next for Solar Bear? Our strategic aims for the next two years are to:
- Employ professional deaf artists in all parts of our artistic programme
- Make Creative Learning central to our work; develop new work shaped by young people’s ideas, stories and questions
- Grow our network of school and community partners
- Provide clear pathways for young deaf people into the arts, working in partnership with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
- Offer training and development opportunities to professional deaf artists
- Make all of our productions and projects accessible for deaf and hearing audiences and participants
- Train and support a pool of digital artists from the deaf community; commission and share an on-going programme of digital art, celebrating untold stories
- Work with partners to drive change in the wider cultural sector – through advocacy, advice and our own practice
If you want to know more about our work or to help us or get involved – please get in touch!