Sign language Interpreters Make Theatre Accessible for Deaf Learners in South Africa

09 Jul 2015, by Auslan Stage Left in Articles

This article was originally published on Hearing Times.

“Shakespeare is universal. It is so exciting to see Shakespeare being made accessible to Deaf children,” said Kseniya Filinova-Bruton, founder and director of the Shakespeare Schools Festival South Africa.

For the first time, two sign language interpreters made the rich language of Shakespeare accessible to a group of learners from the Dominican School for Deaf Children.  at the  which took place this week.  Learners from four Cape Town schools performed 40-minute abridged versions of three of Shakespeare’s plays at the fifth Shakespeare Schools Festival at Artscape.

Vista Nova High School and the Lalela Project both performed different interpretations of Romeo and Juliet, Chris Hani Arts and Culture Focus School performed Hamlet, and Sans Souci Girls High performed As you Like It.  The 16 learners from the Dominican School for Deaf Children, who are doing grades 9, 10 and 12 this year, arrived two hours before Wednesday’s show for the sign language intepreters to brief them.  The briefing ensured that the children would understand Shakespeare and what the plays were about when they watched on the stage.

Filinova-Bruton told the African News Agency that was exciting to see how the Shakespeare Schools Festival had grown from eight schools in 2011 to 52 schools this year.  “I am very excited to open theatre and Shakespeare to the Deaf communities who could not access the theatre before. We want to make it accessible to them,” Filinova-Bruton said.  She said she hoped to see Deaf schools participate in the festival next year.

Photo: Irish artist and sign language interpreter, Amanda Coogan interpreting the Chris Hani Arts and Culture Focus School’s rendition of Hamlet for deaf learners at the Shakespeare Schools Festival at Artscape in Cape Town on Wednesday.

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