R&D on translation processes at 1623 Theatre
1623's artistic director Ben Spiller, and associate artist Oliver Alvin Wilson, spent a week in London with a team of artists working on Shakespeare-to-BSL translations of scenes from MACBETH with The DH Ensemble (Deaf & Hearing Ensemble).
The week was an important step along the way to the making of FAIR IS FOUL a bilingual adaptation of MACBETH, next year.
Ben explained that during the week the group - who included both deaf and hearing artists - experimented with three different ways of translating MACBETH from an English script to British Sign Language (BSL).
Dr Lindsey Snyder (a freelance theatre practitioner and academic from Washington DC) had collaborated long distance with Brian Duffy, a UK-based BSL consultant, to translate a scene from MACBETH into BSL, which was handed over to the actors to work on.
In a second way of working, the whole team sat round a table and worked on another scene together to translate it. In a final method, the team spilt into two groups - one comprising hearing artists and one comprising deaf artists and they worked on translations separately and then came back to share their work.
Ben said: "We rounded off the week by meeting up with about 30 other theatre makers, mostly deaf, to learn about their experiences of translating English to BSL. It was shocking to learn that actors are often asked to come up with their own translations, even before auditions some times.
"We made lots of discoveries together. It takes about eight hours to translate about a side and a half of A4 Shakespeare English script into BSL, and then things change when we move about, tune into each other, react, feel and discover more. It's an ongoing process that makes you feel so alive."
Creative team: Actors - Oliver Alvin Wilson, William Grint, Erin Siobhan Hutching, Sophie Stone; Director - Jennifer K. Bates; Translation Leads - Brian Duffy and Dr Lindsey Snyder; Shakespeare Consultant - Ben Spiller; Interpreters - Susan Booth and Kathy Yeoman-Owens. Supported by Arts Council England and Poplar Union
Image by David Monteith-Hodge www.photographise.com