FINDERS KEEPERS / Hot Coals Theatre

Finders Keepers is a devised play using mime-based physical performance and puppetry to convey the story of a motherless girl who lives with her dad, and one day finds an abandoned baby that the pair care for together until its real mother returns to claim it. The production is loosely based on the story of Moses, and the final moments show the child's foster mother leaving home, perhaps to follow and become the baby's nanny.  

Within the story material, described by the company as 'a live cartoon', the show hints at issues around care and loss without explicitly interrogating them (we see moments: the ritual of kissing an absent mother's portrait, different situations involving saying goodbye to a child, the adoption of a stranger to the family).

Finders Keepers is is billed as 'accessible to deaf and hearing audiences in a shared experience', and isperformed by two women, one of whom hears, one who is partially deaf. It has been directed by Caroline Parker MBE, who grew up deaf in a hearing household, and we we are shown a world where significant sounds happen as part of the storytelling. The feature that distinguishes deaf audiences from Deaf ones is that they identify themselves as belonging within a majority hearing culture.

There are utterances whose meaning is not always reflected in visual portrayal; trumpet playing and headphones used as devices to soothe the baby; plot shifts in the story marked with pre-recorded soundtrack noises - most prominently the infant's cries, which the characters repeatedly hear and respond to.

During the periods of the show where the baby is crying, a string of lanterns above the set flicker. An extra layer of semiotic interpretation can translate that visual signifier to the understood fiction of a distressed child, by watching the ensuing responses of the cast onstage and extrapolating through repetition, or through familiarity with flashing and/or vibrating baby monitors for parents with hearing impairment.

Whilst we may all share the same theatrical environment, deaf, Deaf or Hearing audience members will receive differently nuanced versions of the story, as with lived experience. (KK)

Finders Keepers is on at 11:45 at ZOO until August 27th. Wheelchair Access, Level Access, Wheelchair Accessible Toilets - https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/finders-keepers

On making theatre for D/deaf and hearing audiences: https://www.theguardian.com/culture-professionals-network/2015/may/12/staging-theatre-deaf-hearing-audiences

On the differences between being deaf and Deaf: http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/opinion/d_or_d_whos_deaf_and_whos_deaf.shtml

Resource of information for Deaf parents and professionals working with Deaf parents: http://www.deafparent.org.uk

Organisation dedicated to enriching the experience of CODAs (Children of Deaf Adults): http://www.coda-international.org

Collection of lectures on affectional bonds: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Y1ifjsdRGjsC&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Making+and+Breaking+of+Affectional+Bonds&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiemKj7rr_OAhUmLMAKHWUYCSMQ6AEIJDAB#v=onepage&q=The%20Making%20and%20Breaking%20of%20Affectional%20Bonds&f=false