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Photo: Jeni Draper

Photo: Jeni Draper


How do venues and festivals best serve deaf artists and audiences?

Venues and festivals regularly book British Sign Language interpreters, to offer audiences more accessible performances. But what needs to happen to ensure audiences experience a well interpreted show? This event brings together artists, venues, audience members and BSL interpreters for shared conversation and to learn from each other.

This session will explore what happens practically from the point an interpreter is booked. It will explore the various ways in which interpreters work with artists. It will look at purpose of clear sign language provision in relation to the potential of theatrical sign language evolving as an art form. It will ask what audiences want from both and if BSL interpreters are always the best people for the job?

With contributions from interpreters, artists, producers and Michael Richardson who will take us through his research on the theatrical interpreting experience from the Deaf audience perspective the day is an opportunity to outline the current provision and start a conversation to achieve better understanding of the 3 perspectives, identify any gaps in training and work towards some recommendations which can be disseminated within the performing Arts community.

This is the first event in a series of planned sessions taking place across the next year, exploring what is good practice, what is exciting that is happening nationally, what is needed in order to push the boundary between access and art, particularly when working with individual artists and small companies.


About the facilitators

Jeni Draper

Jeni is Artistic Director and one of the founding members of fingersmiths, a visual physical theatre company working with Deaf and hearing actors presenting popular plays in British Sign Language and spoken English. fingersmiths next production is Up n Under by John Godber touring Spring 2018.

fingersmiths is an Associate Company at NWT where the show opens. As well as running fingersmiths, Jeni is a freelance director, a qualified sign language interpreter specialising in theatre, consultant and trainer. See has been to known to tread the boards too.

Michael Richardson

Michael's most recent paper explores theatrical interpreting for Deaf spectators, a specialism that both blurs the separation between translation and interpreting, and replaces these potentials with a paradigm in which the translator's body is central to the production of the target text. Meaningful written translations of dramatic texts into sign language are not currently possible. Download the paper here.

Earlier Event: 12 October
Later Event: 18 October