Sheffield Theatres announces touring cast for Deaf and Disabled theatre initiative Much Ado About Nothing

Sheffield Theatres today announces the full cast for their production of William Shakespeare’s well-loved comedy Much Ado About Nothing, co-produced with Ramps on the Moon. This will open at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield this September before embarking on a UK Tour.

A pioneering initiative, Ramps on the Moon is a consortium of theatres which aim to enrich stories and the ways in which they are told by putting deaf and disabled artists and audiences at the centre of their work.

Playing the roles of Beatrice and Benedick are the previously announced Daneka Etchells and Guy Rhys. Joining them, the cast includes: Lee Farrell (Common) playing Verges, Laura Goulden (In The Willows) playing Margaret, Amy Helena (Antigone) playing Seacole, Karina Jones (Macbeth) playing Antonia, Kit Kenneth (London Road) playing Balthasar, Leo Long (I Used To Be Famous) playing Oatcake, Gerard McDermott (Frankenstein) playing Leonato, Taku Mutero (The Prophetic Soul) playing Claudio, Fatima Niemogha (Small Island) playing Don Joan, Caroline Parker (Oliver Twist) playing Dogberry, Dan Parr (Lava) playing Don Pedro, Shreya Patel (The Secret Garden) playing Ursula, Richard Peralta (Coriolanus) playing Friar, Ciaran Stewart (Tribes) playing Conrade, Claire Wetherall (Faith) playing Hero, and Ben Wilson (Oliver Twist) playing Borachio.

Guy Rhys returns to Sheffield Theatres, having just performed in Chris Bush’s trilogy of plays ROCK / PAPER / SCISSORS across the Crucible, Lyceum and Studio stages, and Ciaran Stewart returns having performed in Tribes in the Studio theatre. Shreya Patel is a current member of Sheffield Theatres’ Bank Cohort of supported artists, and Richard Peralta was a recipient of the 4x4 Commission scheme in 2021, part of Sheffield Theatres’ Talent Development programme, and performed in Coriolanus at the Crucible as a member of Sheffield People’s Theatre. Ben Wilson has been the Ramps on the Moon Agent for Change at Sheffield Theatres for the last 5 years and Associate Director on Guys and Dolls.

Daneka Etchells, Lee Farrell, Laura Goulden, Amy Helena, Karina Jones, Kit Kenneth, Leo Long, Gerard McDermott, Taku Mutero, Fatima Niemogha, Caroline Parker, Dan Parr and Claire Wetherall make their Sheffield Theatres debut with Much Ado About Nothing.

‘I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is not that strange?’

Besotted young couple Claudio and Hero have fallen fast and are quickly engaged. Not everyone finds romance so straightforward – Benedick balks at the very thought of it and Beatrice agrees with him, on that if nothing else. But somewhere in this world, there’s someone for everyone, even if they’re right under your nose.

Robert Hastie, Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres, said: ‘It is with much excitement that we take the lead for this year’s Ramps on the Moon production, which opens in Sheffield before touring to stages across the UK. Ramps on the Moon is a collaborative partnership which we are so proud to be a part of, and it is a thrill to produce such a well-loved Shakespeare play in our birthday year. Witty and uplifting, Much Ado About Nothing is a joyous show with a big inclusive heart and we have an incredibly talented cast to bring it to life.’

Michèle Taylor, Director for Change at Ramps on the Moon, added: ‘In a year of Much Ados, Sheffield Theatres’ production is sure to stand out and I can’t wait to see what the company does with the play once they get into the rehearsal room. Ramps on the Moon with Shakespeare is such an exciting prospect and represents yet one more milestone in our journey towards real equity for disabled and deaf people in mainstream theatre.’

Opening in Sheffield from Friday 9 - Saturday 24 September, the production will tour to Leeds Playhouse (Tuesday 27 September - Saturday 1 October), Birmingham Rep (Tuesday 4 - Saturday 8 October), Nottingham Playhouse (Tuesday 11 - Saturday 15 October), New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich (Tuesday 18 - Saturday 22 October), Theatre Royal Stratford East (Tuesday 1 - Saturday 5 November), and Salisbury Playhouse (Tuesday 8 - Saturday 12 November).

Tickets for Much Ado About Nothing are on sale now with every performance featuring the use of integrated creative sign language, audio description and captioning.

Cast Biographies

Daneka Etchells (Beatrice)

Daneka Trained at ALRA. Theatre credits include: The Welkin, All of Us (National Theatre); Alice in Wonderland (HOME/Stockroom); Come To Where I Am (Paines Plough); Acting Leader (Northern Stage); Northern Girls: Lemon Top (Pilot Theatre); Moth to the Flame (Theatre by the Lake); Tinsel Tunes (Octagon Theatre Bolton); BURNOUT (Live Theatre); Miss Julie (CAST); Isolation (The Customs House); The Comedy of Errors (Petersfield Shakespeare Festival) and Under The Market Roof (Junction 8 Theatre). Film credits include: Supernova (BBC/StudioCanal/The Bureau) and I Asked Your Dad If He Could Do It (Northern Broadsides).

Lee Farrell (Verges)

Born and raised in Coventry, Lee attended Belgrade Youth as a teen and went on the graduate from The University of Wales, Trinity St. David. Theatre credits include: Common (National Theatre); Lessons in Love and Violence (Royal Opera House); Misfits (The Space Theatre); Wyrd Sisters (The Old Joint Stock Theatre/Tour); Diablo and Blood (Belgrade Theatre).

Laura Goulden (Margaret)

Laura studied BA (Hons) Theatre Arts, Education and Deaf Studies at the University of Reading with further training at The International School of Corporeal Mime. She is co-founder at Handprint Theatre including co-directing award winning Moonbird by Joyce Dunbar and Jane Ray at Edinburgh Fringe 2019 and A Tale of Two Houses - Borough of Culture. Laura is a Trustee at Prime Theatre. Integrated/interpreted theatre credits include: In The Willows (Metta Theatre); Snail & the Whale (Tall Stories); Punk Rock (Prime Theatre); Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World (Kenny Wax); Mavra/Pierrot Lunaire (Royal Opera House) and Stig of the Dump (Storyhouse).

Amy Helena (Seacole)

Amy trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, graduating in 2021. Theatre credits include: Robin Hood (Cumbernauld Theatre), Antigone (Storyhouse), Class Act (Traverse Theatre), Like Flying (National Theatre of Scotland) and Dinosaurs in Love (Traverse Theatre). Other Credits include: Diagnonsense (Short Film) No Hero (Short Film)

Karina Jones (Antonia)

Karina is an actor with a vision impairment from Wales. Karina trained at Liverpool Hope University and Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Theatre credits include: Macbeth (Leeds Playhouse), Curtain Up (Theatre Clwyd), As You Like It and Measure for Measure (Royal Shakespeare Company), Wait Until Dark (Original Theatre Company, UK Tour), The Tragic Life and Triumphant Death of Julia Pastrana (Hope Mill Theatre), In Water I'm Weightless (National Theatre Wales), Flower Girls (Graeae Theatre Company/New Wolsey Ipswich), On Blindness (Young Vic/Paines Plough), Crystal Clear (The Lowry) and The Fly (Royal Exchange Manchester). Film and Television: Foreign Skies (Channel 4), Off Their Rockers (ITV) and The Bill (Thames Television) Radio: (Series 2-4, BBC Radio). Karina is also an aerialist and began her career in 2012 when she answered a call out for disabled artists to train for the Paralympic Opening Ceremony. Karina continued her training full time with Green Top Circus in Sheffield and Circus Oz in Australia. Karina has performed with various circus companies such as Extraordinary Bodies and Rogue Play Theatre Company and also as a solo performer at The Cerebral Palsy World Games Opening Ceremony. Karina is a theatre maker, Clore Fellow, NLP Practitioner, Voice coach and audio description consultant.

Kit Kenneth (Balthasar)

Kit is a recent graduate of the Rose Bruford College of Performance where he trained as an Actor Musician. Much Ado About Nothing marks his professional debut and he is very excited to share this performance. His recent credits at college include: London Road by Alecky Blythe and Nell Gwynn by Jessica Swale.

Leo Long (Oatcake)

Leo Long is a musician who has performed with the London Youth Folk Ensemble and National Open Youth Orchestra. This autumn, Leo makes his screen debut in the role of ‘STEVIE’ in the Netflix film, I Used To Be Famous. Being neurodiverse, Leo has experienced and succeeded in overcoming many challenges and is determined to make the music and film industries more people-friendly for disabled musicians and actors.

Gerard McDermott (Leonato)

Theatre credits include: Richard III (Kronborg Castle, Denmark); Frankenstein (Royal Exchange, Manchester); Reasons to be Cheerful (Graeae Theatre); The Merry Wives of Windsor, King John and Antony and Cleopatra (Northern Broadsides); Blood Wedding (Graeae Theatre/Derby Theatre/Dundee Rep); Crows on the Wire (Verbal Arts); Bunny’s Vendetta (Blue Eagle Productions); Billy Liar (Macho Productions); Being Tommy Cooper (Franklin Productions); Fool for Love and Richard III (Riverside Studios); The Calendar Girls (West End/Chichester); Sleeping Beauty (Mercury Theatre, Colchester); Blasted (Soho Theatre); The Bells (National Tour); Marley (Vasa Theatre, Stockholm); Confusions (Bridewell Theatre); Whistle Down the Wind (West End); House at Pooh Corner (Polka); Neville’s Island (The Dukes, Lancaster) and Northern Trawl (Remould Theatre Company). Television credits include: Father Brown, Doctors, Casualty and EastEnders (BBC) and Vera (ITV). Film credits include: Set the Thames on Fire (Blonde to Black Pictures). Gerard is an experienced voiceover artist and has worked on hundreds of audio and radio dramas both for Audible and BBC Radio 4.

Taku Mutero (Claudio)

Taku grew up in Chelmsford, Essex, England. He's an alumnus of Drama Studio London, where he trained on the three-year Professional Acting course, graduating in 2019. He has worked on various screen, voiceover, and stage productions including: The Prophetic Soul (Salisbury Playhouse), Salome (The Bunker Theatre), and Lazy Ace (Her Majesty's Theatre). Taku also recently narrated the audio book Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War for Listening Books.

Fatima Niemogha (Don Joan)

Fatima, who is deaf and of British-Nigerian heritage, is a BBC Class Act alum and hails from London. Theatre credits include: Antigone (Storyhouse Theatre); The Tempest (Graeae Theatre Company); Medicine’s Monstrous Daughters (Vital Xposure); Small Island (National Theatre) and Mirror Mirror (Oily Cart). Television credits include: I Hate Suzie (Bad Wolf/ Sky Studios), Something Special (BBC) and Supersonic (Neath Films/BSLBT).

Caroline Parker (Dogberry)

Theatre credits include: Oliver Twist (Ramps on The Moon/Leeds Playhouse); Cinderella (CAST) and Twelfth Night (Southwark Theatre). Television credits include: Moving On, Doctors, Murphy’s Law, Switch (BBC). Caroline won 3 Best Actress awards for her role Mabel Morgan in the BSLBT Zone film If I Don't Lose, I'll Lose, including Cannes Film Festival. In the cabaret circuit Caroline performs her unique style signed songs. She gave a TEDx talk on Singing Without Her Voice. At the 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony she signed the closing number I am What I Am alongside Beverley Knight.

Dan Parr (Don Pedro)

Theatre credits include: Lava (Soho Theatre); The Big Corner (Bolton Octagon); Road (Royal Court); The Kitchen Sink (The New Vic); Around The World In 80 Days, Hamlet, A Christmas Carol, Europe, Road, Romeo and Juliet, Kes (Leeds Playhouse); Weald (Finborough Theatre); Hamlet (Barbican); Britannia Waves The Rules, Scuttlers, Pages From my Songbook (Royal Exchange Theatre); Wanted! Robin Hood (Library Theatre); and DNA (The Lowry Theatre). Film credits include: 2.0 Lucy, The Rise Of the Krays, The Fall of the Krays and Halcyon Heights. Television credits include: Silent Witness, The Musketeers, Rocket’s Island, Casualty, The Crimson Field, and The Village. Dan is also one of the founders of Hear The Picture, an actor-led audio description company, exploring creative access in theatre.

Shreya Patel (Ursula)

Shreya M Patel is a disabled actor, writer and early career director. Her career started in Leeds with Searching for the Heart of Leeds, and being part of Leeds Playhouse's Young Company. Most recent credits involve Northern-based theatre The Fairy Who Fell off The Christmas Tree (She Productions) and The Secret Garden (Carole Wears Productions). Television includes: Then Barbara Met Alan (BBC 2) and the upcoming Perfect (Dave). Her passion for fair, inclusive and intersectional disability representation runs through all her work, and she is excited to embark on her first classic-text project since Hamlet (2019).

Richard Peralta (Friar)

Richard P. Peralta (they/he/by name) is a deaf, Filipino-American multidisciplinary artist. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, they grew up performing at The Muny before training further and later graduating with Master’s degrees in both counselling education (Clemson University) and psychology (University of Huddersfield). As a member of Sheffield People’s Theatre, Sheffield Theatres credits include: Coriolanus (2020) and in residency with Showstopper! The Improvised Musical (2019). Other theatre credits include: Wendy and Peter Pan (Leeds Playhouse); Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading (ALP Musicals). With a commitment to improving inclusive representation in entertainment, Richard has begun writing, penning their first play Goldfish, and contributing to Titilola Dawudu and Tamasha Theatre’s Hear Me Now, Volume 2.

Guy Rhys (Benedick)

Guy trained at the Drama Centre. For Sheffield Theatres, credits include: ROCK / PAPER / SCISSORS (Crucible, Lyceum and Studio theatres). Theatre credits include: Mother Courage And Her Children (Headlong Theatre); The Resistable Rise Of Arturo Ui/ St Joan (Donmar Warehouse); Pomona (Orange Tree Theatre); 24 Hours Of Peace, A View From The Bridge (Royal Exchange); Bird (Sherman Theatre); Beyond These Walls (Northern Broadsides); Aesop’s Fables, Grimm Tales, Not Now Bernard, My Father Odysseus, Jason and The Argonauts (Unicorn Theatre); Wendy and Peter Pan (Royal Shakespeare Company); Star Cross’d (Oldham Coliseum); Rafta Rafta (Bolton Octagon); A Streetcar Named Desire (Theatr Clywd); The Ramayana, Murmuring Judges, Transmissions (Birmingham Rep); The Allotment (New Perspectives/Edinburgh); The PowerBook, Mother Courage And Her Children (National Theatre); Hijra (Leeds Playhouse); Mrs Dalloway (Arcola Theatre) and Romeo and Juliet (Chichester Festival Theatre). Television credits include: The Witcher: Blood Origin (Netflix); The Ipcress File (BritBox); The First Team, MotherFatherSon, The Crimson Field, Holby City, Outlaws, Sorted, Doctors, Dalziel and Pascoe (BBC); Disability Benefits, Fallout, No Angels (Channel 4) and Emmerdale, Fat Friends, The Last Detective, A&E, Big Bad World 2, The Bill (ITV). Film credits include: The Festival (Film4), Mary, Queen Of Scots (Universal) and How To Build A Girl (Amazon). Radio credits include: Relativity, Schreber, Zola: Sex, Blood & Money (BBC) and Kukutis In The Dark (ARC).

Ciaran Stewart (Conrade)

Ciaran trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, graduating in 2018. For Sheffield Theatres, credits include Tribes. Other theatre credits include: A Midsummer Night's Dream (Shakespeare's Globe); Pop Music (Paines Plough) and Junkyard (Headlong Theatre). Television credits include: Traces and Dream On! (BBC).

Claire Wetherall (Hero)

Claire graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland with a BA in Performance in BSL and English. Theatre credits include: Faith (Royal Shakespeare Company/Coventry City of Culture Trust); The Red Tree (Red Earth Theatre) and These Bridges (Deafinately Theatre). Credits whilst training include: The Assumption (RCS/Solar Bear), The Coat, Glory On Earth and Tanya: A New Musical (RCS). Television credits include: BOAT (Film4). Claire can be seen as a BSL on-screen interpreter for ITV Signpost. Claire particularly enjoys working in a company with deaf and hearing actors as well as theatre that is very visual and physical.

Ben Wilson (Borachio)

Benjamin Wilson is an actor, theatre maker and audio description consultant. For Sheffield Theatres: Associate Director on Guys and Dolls. For the last 5 years he has been the Ramps On The Moon Agent For Change at Sheffield Theatres. He co-founded award-winning theatre company Brick Wall Ensemble and creative audio description company Hear the Picture. Ben trained at Birmingham School of Acting (now Birmingham Royal Conservatoire) and his recent credits as an actor and creative include Macbeth, Oliver Twist and Road (Leeds Playhouse) and Brick Wall Ensemble productions Henry 5 and Mike On The Mic. 

Creative Biographies

Robert Hastie (Director)

Robert is Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres. For Sheffield Theatres, credits include: ROCK / PAPER / SCISSORS, She Loves Me, The Band Plays On, Coriolanus, Guys and Dolls, Standing at the Sky’s Edge, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The York Realist (co-produced with the Donmar Warehouse), The Wizard of Oz, Of Kith and Kin (co-produced with the Bush Theatre) and Julius Caesar. Other theatre credits include: Macbeth (Shakespeare’s Globe); Breaking the Code (Manchester Royal Exchange); Henry V (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Theatr Clwyd); My Night with Reg, Splendour (Donmar Warehouse); Carthage, Events While Guarding The Bofors Gun (Finborough Theatre); Sixty-Six Books (Bush Theatre) and A Breakfast of Eels (Print Room). Television includes Sex Education - Romeo and Juliet stage direction (Netflix).

Peter McKintosh (Designer)

Peter is a Tony and Olivier award-nominated Designer. He won the Olivier Award for Best Costume Design for Crazy for You at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and in the West End. For Sheffield Theatres, credits include: Oliver!, Me and My Girl, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Fiddler on the Roof, Assassins, Guys and Dolls, Romans in Britain. Other theatre credits include: All My Sons (Theatre Cocoon, Japan); Funny Girl and Guys and Dolls (Théâtre Marigny, Paris); 42nd Street (Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris); The Winslow Boy (Old Vic and New York); The 39 Steps (London, New York and worldwide; Tony nominations for Best Scenic and Best Costume Design); The Wind in the Willows, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, The Importance of Being Earnest, Guys and Dolls, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, My Night With Reg, Hay Fever, Fiddler on the Roof, Another Country, Prick Up Your Ears, Entertaining Mr Sloane, The Dumb Waiter, Viva Forever!, Noises Off, Love Story, Donkeys’ Years, Educating Rita/ Shirley Valentine, The Birthday Party, Butley, Relatively Speaking (West End); Our Country’s Good, The Doctor’s Dilemma, Widowers’ Houses, Honk! (National Theatre); Alice in Wonderland, Pericles, King John, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Brand (Royal Shakespeare Company); Saint Nicholas, Measure for Measure, The York Realist, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, Splendour, My Night With Reg, Luise Miller, Serenading Louie, Be Near Me, The Chalk Garden, John Gabriel Borkman, The Cryptogram and Boston Marriage (Donmar Warehouse); Stones In His Pockets, God of Carnage (Theatre Royal Bath); Waste, Cloud Nine, Knot of the Heart, The Turn of the Screw, Romance, The House of Games (Almeida Theatre); On the Town, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Sound of Music, Hello, Dolly! (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); After The End, Shining City, King Hedley II (Theatre Royal Stratford East), South Pacific, Shadowlands, The Deep Blue Sea, Guys and Dolls, Love Story, Pal Joey, Antony and Cleopatra, The Scarlet Letter (Chichester Festival Theatre), Macbeth (Shakespeare’s Globe), and Kirikou et Karaba (Casino de Paris). Opera credits include: Hansel and Gretel (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), The Handmaid’s Tale (Royal Danish Opera, English National Opera and Canadian Opera); The Marriage of Figaro (English National Opera), and Love Counts, The Silent Twins (Almeida Theatre). Peter is a founding member of FreelancersMakeTheatreWork.

Emily Howlett (British Sign Language Director)

Theatre directing/consulting credits include: The Offerings (Timber Festival, in association with Derby CAN); Eugene (Daniel Nicholas in association with AAC and SlungLow); Treasure Island (Derby Theatre); Telethon (TOOT Collective); Jack (Nottingham Playhouse); First Three Drops (Taking Flight Theatre Company); Jungle Book (Derby Theatre); Left Of Me (PAD Productions) and The WISE Project (Sarah Gatford Ltd./Police Crime Commissioner). For Sheffield Theatres, theatre acting credits include: Tribes. Other theatre acting credits include: Much Ado About Nothing (1623 Theatre / Century Theatre); Left of Me, Soul Bear (PAD Productions); People of the Eye (The Deaf & Hearing Ensemble); Leveret (Bristol Old Vic); The Iron Man (Graeae Theatre Company); Gwion and the Witch (Taking Flight Theatre Company) and Loving April (Oxfordshire Theatre Company). Television credits include: Doctors, Casualty, Inside Number 9, Holby City, SeeHear (BBC) and Give Out Girls (Big Talk Productions). Short Film credits include: I Hear You (YUFC); Coda (Neath Films); Five Needles (BSLBT); Luke Starr (DeafFest) and My Song (CB Films). Radio credits include: Shall I Say A Kiss (BBC Radio 4)

Chloë Clarke (Audio Description Director)

Chloë Clarke began her career as an Audio Description Consultant in 2014 following the success of her own project exploring creative, integrated AD that offers a choice of interpretation to the visually impaired audience and eliminates the need for headsets, while being so naturally woven into the piece that it goes unnoticed by the sighted audience. Since then she has become recognised as one of the country’s leading experts in creatively integrated audio description, has published a guide for the Arts Council of Wales on developing visually impaired audiences and collaborated with a wide variety of well-known venues and companies across theatre, film and TV to facilitate the integration of creative ‘stealth’ AD into their work, some of which include Graeae Theatre, Leeds Playhouse, Theatre Royal Plymouth, National Theatre, National Theatre Wales, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, Netflix, Manchester Royal Exchange, Sheffield Crucible, Wales Millennium Centre and Warner Bros. Entertainment. 

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