Jenny Sealey on Self-Raising

Following a lifetime of championing stories by Deaf and disabled artists, Graeae’s award-winning Artistic Director Jenny Sealey is about to take to stages across the country to tell her own story. Sealy has been the artistic director of Graeae since 1997 and co-directed the London 2012 Paralympics Opening Ceremony alongside Bradley Hemmings .

Sealey describes her play, Self-Raising, as being “essentially about families, secrets, washing up and being deaf. It asks the question ‘Do you think you should keep things from children?’. Things were kept from me until I asked a question and then everything unravelled from that.

She says she is “feeling both excited and terrified” about embarking on a London run at Soho Theatre which precedes a national tour of the show. “I had forgotten how nerve-wracking it is being an actor, but I do love being in front of an audience!”

She says developing a show from her own story wasn’t something she had previously thought bout doing until adapting Flour Babies by Anne Fine. “I never set out to do a one-woman show but as I started to adapt Flour Babies… Kate Cross, artistic director of The Egg in Bath, said ‘Let your own story in, Jen’ so Mike Kenny, a writer who I trust with my whole life, worked with me to make Self -Raising, and my son Jonah has been a crucial part of the show.”

Having those people around her has helped with the process of developing Self-Raising. “It was daunting to start with but having Mike, Jonah and Lee Lyford (the show director) and Daryl Jackson (assistant director) made it safe and fun too.”

On what she hopes audiences take away from the show, she says, “I want them to be curious about their families and to think about what the play of their life would be.”

Self-Raising is at Soho Theatre from 6 Feb to 17 February 2024, then touring