Our next instalment in the Have You Met series is with Deaf Men Dancing and West End performer Joseph Fletcher. Read more to find out how it is being a performer with a difference.
So tell us, What’s your name, where you come from and where do you live now?
Hello, my name is Joseph Fletcher, and I’m originally from Farnham in Surrey and currently living in Southeast London. SUP!
Now tell us who you are and what you do?
According to my twitter bio, I’m the one person who always takes a few minutes to get the joke, an extrovert, and a deaf dancer who is currently twirling a green ribbon in WICKED the musical.
So I guess, I’m a little slow at getting jokes, like to put out positivity, and trying to be a dancer who is deaf.
So you are currently appearing in Wicked, tell us about your journey to get there and where were you when you got the call from your agent?
My WICKED journey started 10 years ago when I saw the show on Broadway for the first time. It totally blew my mind and I remember turning to my mum in the interval (intermission for all you stateside followers) and telling her that I have to play the ribbon track one day.
It was the turning point in my ‘career focused mindset’ and helped me to decide that I wanted to absolutely do theatre. I wanted to be a part of this job that allows us to make people leave feeling differently from when they came into the auditorium at the beginning of the night. Just like WICKED did to me.
Of course it was way easier said than done, and with few too many negative comments, some small step backs, I learnt that with hard work, a lot of perseverance and patience anything can happen. A goal is something for you to reach, no matter how long it takes. So, after 5 years of auditioning, I got told, by my agent in person (so she could watch me cry), in Marks and Spencer’s Covent Garden, that not only did I get the job that I would also be playing the ribbon boy track.
Let me tell you now, it was so worth the wait !
What did 5 year old Joseph want to do? Would he be surprised at where you are now?
I remember one time wanting to be a zoologist. And yes, he’s very surprised. Laughing in fact. “You can’t do that”
You went to Musical Theatre college, is this a route you would recommend to other aspiring performers?
Yes I would. I think it’s important to build the foundations of yourself as a performer – strong and ready. However, I will say, that college is a little bit like learning to drive a car. You don’t start to really understand yourself as a dancer/singer/actor till you’ve graduated. Thats when the real fun begins. Embrace that.
Agent or no agent?
Agent. Hi Leanne.
So you were also a member of Deaf Men Dancing and have also performed at the paralympics. How was that? and how do you find being a deaf performer in this industry?
The Paralympics was MIND BLOWING. And absolutely changed my perception of the world we live in, and my attitude to towards fellow humans. It taught me to be patience, and that growth is encouraged by positivity. I could talk for hours about this whole experience so I won’t. Feel free to ask me privately though.
Deaf Men Dancing is such a cool company to work with. Our deaf humour is brilliant, so it’s always a LOL, I always leave feeling high on life and with a tighter stomach. Its also good to know your not completely alone in this business either, so we all help and support each other when and however we can.
Being a deaf dancer in this industry has more pros than cons, but regardless, it’s not easy. So I guess, my surviving technique or how I’ve made it work so far is allowing myself to adapt to the environment I am in, being an audition, a rehearsal or within a show rather than the environment adapting to accommodate me. I have to ensure people that I am employable, and this is my way of “blending in” if you will. Of course, questions are raised, and I welcome them with open arms. Questions are there to help me, not go against me, and I always answer with honesty and with a little humour. If I can’t laugh at myself, then who can?
If you were stranded on a desert Island what three things would you take with you?
My hearing aids and some batteries.
My iPod and headphones with all of the Celine Dion albums on. Duh!
Cat or Dog person?
DOG. 100%. Dog have owners, Cats have staff. SOLD.
Do you have any nicknames you would want the readers to call you by?
Fletch was always a popular yet common one. But Joseph is the real deal.
Any advice to people starting out in the industry?
I mean, I could do a whole lecture on this question alone. I won’t, So, “The only limits on your life/passion are those that you set yourself”.
See that those imaginary walls that you have surrounded yourself with – They’re not real.
What has been your best and or worst audition?
Best Audition was my WICKED final, the 5th time round. I guess it was the moment I felt most content within myself as a human being and as a dancer. I told myself that day that If I didn’t get it, I wouldn’t audition for the show again and look at moving on to other things. And within that audition regardless the outcome, I felt so happy with everything I had done and set out to achieve and knew I couldn’t have done anymore within my career if I’d tried. And thats an important place to be in.
Worst Audition. Every time I have to sing. I mean, I’m deaf, I rarely have a clue what my starting note is, yet alone if I’m on time, in tune or getting the lyrics right. The key to this success, end in jazz hands and a bow. It softens the blow.
Where would you like to be in 5 years?
Happy, content, and curious.
Well there you have it guys, you can see Joe twirling his ribbon 8 times a week ( depending on if he is on holiday ) in Wicked at the Apollo Victoria or find him on Twitter: @josephjfletcher and Instagram: @josephjfletcher