Wales

Pantomime starring role for visually impaired actor

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Media caption"It never crossed my mind that I wouldn't be able to do it"

A visually impaired actor has won a starring role in a rock'n'roll version of the pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk.

Jessica Jolleys was born with two eye conditions she inherited from her father, who is now completely blind.

But that has not stopped her from taking the stage as Jill at Theatr Clwyd in Mold, Flintshire.

"It's never really crossed my mind I wouldn't be able to do it," the 23-year-old from Hull said.

The veins behind Ms Jolleys' eyes do not reach far enough across, affecting her long-distance vision, she also has a condition called nystagmus that causes her eyes to shake.

"I've always had it and it's a deteriorating eye condition. I've learnt how to cope with it, so I don't know how it's affecting me," she said.

Image copyright Brian Roberts
Image caption Jessica Jolleys as Jill in Jack and the Beanstalk
Image caption This is Jessica's first role since graduating from Kent's Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance

"I spent a lot of time really getting to grips with where everything is," she said.

"Counting how many steps it is and taking in the depth of the room. Once I've done it a few times it's in my body and I feel quite confident to just go for it.

"I had to prepare a piece on all of my instruments, trumpet, piano, flute and saxophone, and two rock and roll songs, and a piece of script. And - here I am in north Wales!"

Image caption Jessica (centre) hopes other people with visual impairments will pursue their dreams, saying "there's always a way"
Image copyright Brian Roberts
Image caption Jessica with co-star Peter Mooney, who plays the title role in Jack and the Beanstalk

Director Zoƫ Waterman said the crew had to make sure things were not lying around in the dark backstage.

She said: "I think it's really brilliant if people come to see it who are visually impaired, for them to see that reflected on stage, but Jessica was absolutely cast because she was the best person for Jill."

Ms Jolleys' added: "If someone does have a visual impairment and wants to go into anything, let alone acting or singing, you can do it, there's always a way.

"You might have to find your own way around it and convince other people maybe, but as long as you believe you can do it, it's fine."

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