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Theatr Clwyd, Jack and the Beanstalk The Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto interview with Jessica Jolleys

Jessica Jolleys is a visually impaired actor and multi-instrumentalist staring as Jill in Theatr Clwyd’s festive production of Jack and the Beanstalk The Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto. We caught up with her to find out more…

So, Jessica, you’ve just graduated…Yes! This my first professional job after graduating and my first time in a show that has an audio described performance, which is fantastic. Training to be an actor has been great, I really like jumping into other people’s shoes, it’s so much fun and you work with lovely people.

Jessica Jolleys and Will Tuckett Jack and the Beanstalk Rehearsals Theatr Clwyd. Copyright Brian Roberts.
Jessica Jolleys and Will Tuckett Jack and the Beanstalk rehearsals Theatr Clwyd. Copyright Brian Roberts.

Tell us a bit about the show and who you play… Jack and the Beanstalk the Rock ‘n’ Roll pantomime is brilliant fun, loads of rock and roll songs. I play Jill Stinker, the daughter of Squire Stinker ‘stinker by name, stinker by nature’, the love interest of Jack! She’s a great character, she’s gritty and has some brilliant lines, not your typical girly fairy-tale princess. I also play trumpet in the show, it’s a real singalong, with songs by Aretha Franklin, Ed Sheeran, Ray Charles, Queen, Madonna and loads more – something for everyone.

As a visually impaired actor did you have to make any special preparations to be in the show? I tend to try learn lines and any music very quickly to minimise the amount of reading I’m doing. Theatr Clwyd has been great, they offered a large print script and have made sure there’s enough light backstage so I can get around OK. I did have some awareness of other actors with disabilities of course, and knew about the theatre company Graeae, but it was only lately that I was in another performance where I met another visually impaired actor for the first time, which was great. Acting is such a confidence thing and there’s been times, especially with moving around on stage, for example, once I had to jump off a moving platform, that I’ve just had to have confidence in myself. It also helps that I’m a pretty active person, I ski and do rock climbing too.

Elin Phillips (left) Jessica-Jolleys (centre) and Lynwen Haf Roberts (right) Jack and the Beanstalk Rehearsals Theatr-Clwyd. Copyright Brian Roberts. 
Elin Phillips (left) Jessica-Jolleys (centre) and Lynwen Haf Roberts (right) Jack and the Beanstalk rehearsals Theatr-Clwyd. Copyright Brian Roberts.

What does audio description mean to you? Theatr Clwyd has quite a few audio-described performances across the year and audio description means a lot, not just to me as a visually impaired actor, but also as my dad is blind, having the availability of a touch tour and audio description is vital for him. I think if you’re sighted then seeing the costumes and the set immerses you. I can really spot the difference if there’s no audio description, dad switches off a bit, as it just doesn’t draw him in. With audio description, he’s more included and has more clear sense of the show.

Will dad be coming to watch Jack and the Beanstalk? Yes! He’s coming to watch more than once, but he’s really looking forward to the audio described performance and particularly to the touch tour, where he’ll be able to explore the set and our costumes beforehand. Touch tours are so important as there’s only so much detail you can ever get from the audio description itself, being able to feel costumes and props and orientate yourself to the set is brilliant for him.

Thanks for chatting to us Jess and break a leg for the show!

Don’t miss Jess in Jack and the Beanstalk the Rock ‘n’ Roll pantomime at Theatr Clwyd, Mold North Wales.

Captioned & audio described Sun 8 Dec 12.30pm. Touch tour 11.30am. Book now 01352 344101 and www.theatrclwyd.com