Ground-breaking Integrated Performance Brings Stories To Life

Ground-breaking Integrated Performance Brings Stories To Life

Award-winning professional orchestra Sinfonia Viva has developed a ground-breaking performance of two well-known narrated children’s classics that is fully integrated to make it equally enjoyable for audience members who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Sinfonia Viva’s matinee performance of ‘Paddington Bear’s First Concert’ and ‘Peter and the Wolf’ at Derby Theatre on May 3 will take accessibility to a new level thanks to a collaboration with actress and writer Rebecca-Anne Withey who is, herself, profoundly deaf.

She is directing the performance and working with stage and screen actor Craig Painting who will narrate, sign the story and artistically interpret the music performed by the chamber orchestra.

Furthermore, visuals and captions will appear on a giant screen to further all the audience’s enjoyment of the much-loved stories.

The afternoon performance will start with ’Paddington Bear’s First Concert’ which is full of humour and the lovable bear’s typical dose of calamity. 

The piece was composed by Herbert Chappell who, in 1974, was invited by Paddington’s creator Michael Bond to write the score for a short cartoon film and it is now performed by orchestras and soloists around the world.

Sinfonia Viva will then perform ‘Peter and the Wolf’ which is probably the best known symphonic fairy tale for children written by Sergei Prokofiev in 1936 and is a wonderful way to introduce children to the different instruments in an orchestra as Peter and his companions head out on their adventure.

Rebecca-Anne Withey explained: “As far as I am aware, Sinfonia Viva is the first orchestra to create a fully-integrated family performance and I am delighted to be part of this exciting project.

“Our goal is to integrate the BSL within the performance so that it’s a core part of the entire musical production.

“There will be text captions enabling deaf and hard of hearing audience members to follow the dialogue, with visual images for both aesthetic delight and also to act as visual cues.

“The BSL translation performed by a professional actor will allow BSL users to enjoy the stories in their own language and feel fully involved in the performance.

“I hope that, through this concert and moving forwards, deaf children in particular can begin to feel more involved in music, and be given opportunities to enjoy musical productions.”

Craig Painting continued: “I love using British Sign Language in performance as an actor. 

“Integrated performances go much further than making theatre accessible - they put access at the heart of the theatrical experience, regardless of an audience’s needs, giving artistic voice to British Sign Language, audio description and creative captions.

“I’m so excited to be part of this event with Sinfonia Viva, working together to try and change the future of performance and improve access within the Arts.”

Sinfonia Viva chief executive Peter Helps concluded: “This performance is perfect for family and friends of all ages as both pieces are loved around the world for combining compelling narration with beautiful classical music scores.

“By working with Rebecca, this fully-integrated performance now means that everyone can enjoy the stories and music together as a family.”

The performance of Paddington’s First Concert and Peter and the Wolf at Derby Theatre on Sunday May 3 will start at 3pm and finish at 4.30pm.  For more information and to book tickets (costing £12.50 each) please visit

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