I recently got the opportunity to film the Graeae Theatre Company. With a reputation for innovation I’d always wanted to see one of their productions. They’re currently touring ‘The Iron Man,’ as part of the ‘Without Walls’ summer festival programme. http://www.withoutwalls.uk.com/
Set up as a platform for deaf and disabled actors, Jenny Sealey is their Artistic Director. She said: “I thought this was great for Graeae as it’s all about judgement. The Iron Man arrives and it’s oh, I don’t like him, it’s about acceptance of this Iron Giant, about communication and about how the Iron Man demonstrates that he is useful and that he can be part of the community. It’s very valid if you link it to the experience of the deaf and disabled people.”
Accessibility is at their core and Graeae’s approach to British Sign Language interpreters is that they absolutely have to be in the mix. “I’m not letting people pay £20 for a ticket to watch an interpreter at the corner of the stage, no. I want audiences to see everything that is happening, everything to be part of the same visual picture, said Jenny.”
As a Director myself it was the first time I’d worked with people using both British Sign Language (BSL) and Sign Supported English (SSE). Eye contact with your interviewee isn’t always immediate as they are often looking at the interpetor. But once I got used to this, I really did understand that so little of communication is about speech. Jenny agrees, “If you are going through a script and translating it into BSL you have to be very precise. I think that all Directors should work with deaf actors and BSL because the investigation of script is awesome.
So thank you for that opportunity. For details about their remaining shows visit http://www.graeae.org/productions/the-iron-man/
The full item can also be found on BBC 2, See Hear, Episode 11, Series 31. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0121s0z