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How should I interpret this?

17 May 2015, by Marnie Kerridge in Articles

“How should I interpret this in theatre?  The word is ‘baroque’, but it’s a play on ‘broke’: ‘If it’s not baroque, don’t fix it!’”

I remember having a discussion about this with an interpreter who was working on the performance, ‘Beauty and the Beast’. This was the very first interpreted theatre I saw and it was a fascinating insight in the thought, preparation and care in delivering an accessible theatre performance. It was the start of my love affair with accessible theatre.

Right now, interest in accessible theatre has never been higher. We have Auslan Stage Left who provide interpreters for a wide variety of theatre, from big to small budget productions, from lavish musicals to minimalist dramas, from community events to book readings. For others, there is the Theatre Captioning Studio, who provide captioning access via iPads or TV units for usually different theatre productions from Auslan Stage Left. Other theatre venues also include hearing loops as another way to provide accessibility.

The best advertisement for accessibility was when two productions, ‘War Horse’ and ‘Tribes’ used both interpreters and captions. People actually had a choice! It was fantastic to use both and there were of course, pros and cons with both methods. But the overriding, and most important factor was that the Deaf and hard of hearing consumer had a choice. It looked like we were on track for a more equitable and accessible theatre future.

Surely captions would be better suited for everyone, I hear you say? Well, being deaf is not the same experience for everyone. Different hearing levels, different language and literacy levels and different communication levels mean that the deaf population is very diverse. Not everyone has the speed to read captions quickly. Not everyone has the required English expertise to understand and decode text and understand the different layers of meaning in a sentence. This is where Auslan interpreting comes in.

The interpreters are skilled in translating the meaning, the nuances of dialogue, the emotion within the voices of the actors. What we cannot hear clearly, the interpreters show.

Marnie Kerridge is a teacher of the deaf with a Bachelor of Education in Auslan LOTE. She is an avid lover of musicals and loves nothing more that attending big budget productions and watching DVDS of musicals with captions.

Her appreciation of music came from her 15 years of participation in calisthenics, where she had to perform a variety of exercises including march, dance and rods to music. She also enjoys poetry and literature, and cites Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters’ work and the Anne of Green Gables series as personal favourites. It was a natural process to combine music and stories to a love of theatre.  Her favourite stage productions are Phantom of the Opera, Wicked and Les Miserables.

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