Behind The Signs: Melissa Martin and ‘Disney on Ice’

27 Jul 2015, by Auslan Stage Left in Behind the Signs

In this section of the blog, 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 Melissa Martin talks about her experience working with Michelle Ashley on ‘Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream’.


“I have wanted to be an interpreter ever since I can remember. I knew all through my schooling that I was going to be and interpreter and here I am.  I have done a couple of shows for Auslan Stage Left. The highlights are working with my tandem. It’s always a lovely experience and I always, always learn from the process.  I was honoured to be asked to interpret Disney On Ice, and excited to be working with Michelle Ashley.



Michelle Ashley and Melissa Martin in rehearsals for the performance.


“To prepare for the show, Michelle and I did lots of watching of the DVD that we were fortunate enough to receive, translating the script and translating it again and again, which a a fantastic part of the process. It’s important that you go to see the show beforehand. We watched Disney movies that appeared in the show and also worked closely with our deaf consultant Alex. We filmed ourselves and watched it back to see what we were doing and also researched the characters and through that research were surprised to discover a Disney specific wiki.


L-R: Interpreters Michelle Ashley and Melissa Martin with language consultant Alexander Straub.


“The highlight of working on this show was definitely the reaction of the little ones. It really was a magical show. Also working with the stage manager was a very positive experience.

As for challenges, I think there will always be challenges that come up through out the process but it’s all a learning experience. I have learnt it’s important to talk to your tandem about anything that comes up for you, and enjoy the entire experience!

It was an honour to be asked to do Disney on Ice (as it is for all work) and to do a show that relates to my childhood was special, and to be able to do it with a friend was the cherry on top.”



Interpreters Melissa Martin and Michelle Ashley


Mai Bryant Kelly and her daughter Zara were in the audience of ‘Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream’, and shared their thoughts on the show and the work of the interpreters with Auslan Stage Left:

“I am so thankful that you have made a magical and treasured experience such as Disney on Ice accessible to my Deaf daughter.  We have attended Disney on Ice every year since moving to Australia, but this was the first time that my daughter was able to access all parts of the show on equal footing as any other child.  In previous years, she would just watch the ice skaters and characters.  My meagre Auslan skills are not up to the job of interpreting at the same pace as the dialogue in the show, so she would get frustrated when she could see all the other children laughing and not understanding the jokes and feeling left out.

This year was completely different!  I got almost as much enjoyment watching her eyes go back and forth from the amazing interpreters to the action on the ice and the look of sheer excitement on her face as I did to watching the show itself!


I can’t express enough my appreciation to everyone at Auslan Stage Left and all the wonderful work you do.  You’ve made one little girl very happy this week!  Thank you for allowing my daughter to experience the magic and wonder of theatre and by making her world one step closer to equality.”

Thank you to Melissa, Michelle and Alexander for all their hard work on this production.  See what other audience members thought of the show in the video below!

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  • Eleanor Mulligan Reply

    Bring it to Sydney! I went to the same show here with another family who are also users of Auslan. But we were so disappointed not be able to talk about it with our kids, including the songs and the story that was told…. they all want to go again next year!