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Strictly's Rose Ayling Ellis details 'shocking' incident at theatre – fans show support

Rose is making her West End debut in a deaf-friendly production of Shakespeare's As You Like It


rose ayling ellis strictly theatre incident
Kate Thomas
Lifestyle Managing Editor
January 29, 2023
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Rose Ayling-Ellis was inundated with support from her fans after detailing an upsetting incident that occurred during the Sunday matinee performance of Shakespeare's As You Like It.

The Strictly Come Dancing 2021 champion, who is a proud member of the deaf community, revealed a man interrupted her West End production with an "entitled rant" accusing the cast of "discriminating against hearing people". Director Josie Rourke's retelling of the classic play incorporates the use of British Sign Language (BSL) via screens visible on all four sides of the Soho Place theatre, making it accessible to the whole audience

WATCH: How the audience reacted to shock incident at Rose Ayling-Ellis' West End play

Rose explained: "During the matinee yesterday. An angry man in the audience interrupted the show with an entitled rant screaming that we were 'discriminating against hearing people!'. He looks at me directly. It was shocking.

MORE: Strictly's Giovanni Pernice shares moving video with Rose Ayling-Ellis

"The video is the reaction when we got back on the stage after he was kicked off. We pick up from Touchstone's line, 'The more pity that fools may not speak wisely what wise men do foolishly'.

"In the same audience, a little deaf girl sat in the front row with her parents signing to her. Deaf members of the audience are able to sit wherever they want and whenever they want. Hearing people reading the captions, laughing and reacting to our signing on stage, coming into our world and understanding Shakespeare because of this.

rose ayling ellis in character as celia in west end production of as you like it by shakespear© Photo: Getty Images

Rose's matinee performance of Shakespeare's As You Like It was interrupted by a theatregoer

"Two days ago, we had a BSL performance show, and 106 deaf people turn up. This is why we do accessible theatre."

Rose subsequently added: "A special mention to thank the person who shouted back, 'you should be able to hear this then, **** YOU' and got a round of applause. (I was told this much later on)."

The former EastEnders actress was met with mass support from her outraged fans, who reassured Rose she was making a huge difference to the deaf community.

aerial view of soho places deaf accessible production of as you like it© Photo: Instagram

Josie Rourke's production incorporates the use of British Sign Language (BSL)

One commented: "As a hearing person, I am ashamed and angry that you had to experience this Rose. I have seen the production; it was the most magical theatre performance I have EVER seen (and I've seen lots). Kudos to you, and the rest of the cast to this outrage. Shine on Rose. You are an inspiration."

Another reassured Rose she was an inspiration to all, writing: "For generations deaf people have been discriminated against and I'm delighted to see more and more minority communities are being given a platform. But we still have a long way to go. You go girl, you are doing an amazing job."

A third shared: "I'm so sorry you had to experience that. I was there last night. It was INCREDIBLE and it felt like the use of BSL worked so seamlessly. It naturally worked with the character of Celia and Audrey. I walked away in awe. I want more of it!"

rose ayling ellis in blue mini dress dancing with strictly partner giovanni pernice© Photo: Getty Images

Rose has been an inspiration since winning Strictly 2021 with Giovanni Pernice

Rose, who has spoken candidly about how being born deaf has an impact on her daily life, previously detailed how proud she was to be performing in the accessible theatre show, expressing her desire for other productions to follow suit by incorporating BSL captions.

DISCOVER: Strictly's Rose Ayling-Ellis addresses split from ex-boyfriend Sam Arnold for the first time

She told the Evening Standard: "We've got a West End show that captions all the show; if we can do it, [the rest of] the West End can do it.

"I think people who don't watch Shakespeare at all probably expect to come in and find it really hard, but the captions, the feeling, the energy, the signs make it actually accessible to people who don't really understand Shakespeare."

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