Behind the Signs: Christy Filipich and ‘The Epic’

26 Jun 2015, by Auslan Stage Left in Behind the Signs

Auslan Stage Left goes behind the signs with some of our interpreters to find out more about a specific show they have worked on. What was their process? What were some challenges? Today Christy Filipich talks about her experience working at The Blue Room Theatre in Perth on the show The Epic.


I’ve been interpreting for fifteen years now, and involved with Auslan Stage Left for the last couple of years. In that short time I’ve had a wide range of theatrical experiences with them – starting with Play School, then some Shakespeare, and some local independent theatre productions. The most recent experience was The Epic at the Blue Room Theatre.


The Epic is the brainchild of two storytellers, Scott Sandwich and Finn O’Branagáin, and the format of the production was that of two people sharing stories they love, stories from around the globe, from many different cultures, with the audience. Some of these stories I was already familiar with, such as the story of Odysseus. But there were others, like The Kalevala that I’d never heard before. The performers were great to work with, welcoming me to rehearsals and answering every and all questions about the various stories and how they were going to be told/enacted.


The Kalevala: the biggest challenge, the biggest highlight. It’s a true epic at 1000 pages of rhyming couplets of eight syllables in the original Finnish and translations into English can be unreliable. It’s hard to describe, but luckily here’s a clip of the performer Scott Sandwich telling the story in Finland a few years ago.

The story is even more dynamic when told on stage, in front of an audience, with their reactions highlighting the humour, pace and strangeness of this foreign story. To aid the translation into Auslan, I did some additional research on the story, and drew numerous diagrams and storyboards in an attempt to make sense of the story – who people were, what they were doing, and who they were doing it to – in order to produce a product that was faithful to Scott’s rendition. Judging by the reactions from the audience – I think we both pulled it off on the night!


Many thanks to Scott and Finn for welcoming me onto the stage and into their performance, everyone at the Blue Room Theatre for being so accommodating, Auslan Stage Left for the chance to work with such challenging material, and the Deaf Community for coming out and enjoying a night of Epic Storytelling.


Christy Filipich has been interpreting since 2001 and attained NAATI Professional Interpreter Accreditation in 2007. She currently splits her time between educational and community settings. Christy has interpreted large performances such as ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘Annie’, children’s theatre productions such as ‘Skylab’ and ‘Gogo Fish’ by Barking Gecko Theatre Company, puppet shows by Spare Parts Puppet Theatre such as ‘Hachiko’, Indigenous theatre productions by Yirra Yaakin ‘Waltzing the Wilarra’ and ‘Karla Kaatajin’, and even small amateur community theatre productions such as Wembley Community Theatre’s pantomime ‘Sleeping Beauty’. She has also interpreted for a number of alternative performances at The Blue Room Theatre and has made a regular appearance interpreting when The Wiggles come to Perth. As an educational interpreter she has interpreted numerous amateur (and sometimes surprisingly professional) school productions. Sign singing also makes up a large part of Christy’s performance interpreting experience as a member and coordinator of the Club West Drag Show interpreting team for the past 8 years. The WA Government Schools Music Society annual festival and City of Perth’s annual Christmas Nativity are regular parts of Christy’s music interpreting calendar. Without a doubt Christy’s favourite theatre interpreting performance each year is Shakespeare WA’s Shakespeare in the Park production each Summer. She credits the theatre company with renewing her interest in Shakespearean themes and language and relishes the challenge of translating the script in order to make Shakespeare accessible to the Deaf Community.

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