Waikato theatre director wins NZSL Arts Award 2018
Dr Laura Haughey, Artistic Director of the theatre company Equal Voices Arts and senior lecturer in Theatre Studies at the University of Waikato, was presented the inaugural NZSL Arts Award at last week’s New Zealand Sign Language Awards 2018 in the Banquet Hall of Parliament.
The aim of this award is to celebrate an artist or arts initiative that demonstrates a commitment to NZSL accessibility and promotion.
Richard Benge, Executive Director, Arts Access Aotearoa, presented the award. “Laura’s vision and leadership has opened up a pathway to theatre arts for Deaf NZSL users, as both performers and audiences.”
Laura brought eight years’ experience in British Sign Language theatre to New Zealand when she took up a position at the University of Waikato in 2014.
Collaborating with local Deaf people
She started to collaborate with local Deaf people in Waikato to develop training and performance opportunities for a NZSL theatre troupe.
“Under her leadership over the past four years, a number of Deaf and hearing NZSL users have gained NZSL performance skills and have successfully toured productions in New Zealand and overseas,” Richard said.
In 2016, the award-winning bilingual production of At The End Of My Hands toured New Zealand. In 2017 and 2018, the play Salonica toured internationally and in New Zealand. Salonica uses three languages: NZSL, English and Serbian.
“Through these projects, Laura has expanded the artistic experience of Deaf NZSL users and also provided an effective way to expose the wider community to the expressive power of NZSL and the talents of Deaf actors,” Richard said.
Laura is a hearing person who entered the world of sign language and theatre at the age of 16. She is committed to working alongside Deaf people and opening up new creative opportunities using New Zealand Sign Language.
Working behind the scenes
As well as training and directing emerging Deaf artists, she also works behind the scenes to locate funding and provide other support.
In 2016, a partnership between Equal Voices Arts, Deaf Aotearoa, University of Waikato and Bill Hopkinson of Edge University, UK, received the Arts Access CQ Hotels Wellington Community Partnership Award.
The New Zealand Sign Language Awards recognise the hard-working heroes of NZSL and are awarded during NZSL Week. There are 14 categories.