Deborah McAndrew

“I was very impressed by Ness Brooks’ Silent Approach. Clearly, its application has been persuasively demonstrated in creating general audience work with actors with learning disabilities. It’s applicable where a learning-disabled actor is part of a piece of conventional drama in theatre, radio, television or film. Everyone working in the making of drama should see the Silent Approach in action and those that have the range of skills required – should then learn it.”

Deborah McAndrew – Playwright

Tess Parr

“Separate Doors’ Silent Approach to rehearsal process comes close to extraordinary. I urge all theatre folks to engage yourself somehow with her practice, it’s a force for changing representation on our stages.”

Tessa Parr – Actor

Rob Shearman

“What’s extraordinary about Ness Brooks’ Silent Approach is that it seems imbued with a great tenderness. Direction feels like suggestion – it’s firm, but it’s patient, and by putting the ‘play’ back into rehearsal it encourages the actor to feel that the process is one of sharing. There’s a generosity here – both with the actors and director freely giving to each other, and also with the actors freely giving to the audience. I saw actors learn to take full possession of the roles they were playing with a greater sense of pride, even joy. It’s a reminder of what theatre is all about – not putting up barriers of understanding, but instead offering an invitation to see the world from a new perspective.”

Rob Shearman – TV, radio, stage and short story writer

Jo Newman

“Ness Brooks has created a truly integrated rehearsal process for learning disabled and non-learning-disabled actors with her Silent Approach, which achieves high quality results. Through her game-changing Separate Doors research projects she has worked tirelessly to open out this process to other organisations and industry professionals across the UK to interrogate actor training and to make sure that learning disabled actors are represented in mid-scale touring work. Taking part in two of her Silent Approach rehearsals I have seen first-hand how beautifully she holds the space and works completely non-verbally in a rigorous, effective process, where there is such an intense level of focus as well as a safe space to create and be playful. I would love to see this approach used more widely. There are some incredible tools from this approach which can be adapted to fit with directors’ existing processes to make sure that rehearsal rooms are more accessible and that directors feel confident that they can fully support an integrated company – to make sure all actors are getting the most from the process, and make sure that the work created is properly representative of the UK population. The theatre industry is still a long way behind where it should be in terms of representation and here’s hoping we can all take note of this incredible work and incorporate it within our own practice, our own organisations, so that in time there can be a step change across the industry as a whole.”

Jo Newman – Freelance director