This year, seven participants from the Interpreters of Colour Network, have worked alongside students and staff at Rose Bruford College to increase their knowledge and awareness of British Sign Language interpreting specifically for the professional theatre and performance industries.
The participants’ eight months of training has included attending rehearsals and working with cast and creative teams to understand plot and character motivation, all delivered on site at Rose Bruford College by the Interpreters of Colour Network Director, Jacqui Beckford, supported by Rose Bruford College’s Jo Rawlinson (Stage Management Lecturer) and Professor Brian Lobel (Professor of Theatre & Performance). The training has also included assessments carried out by leading Deaf theatre practitioners assisted by qualified interpreters working in theatre, who’ve attended the productions to observe interpreters at work during performances by Rose Bruford College students, in front of an invited audience.
The work now culminates in a selection of publicly-available BSL interpreted shows at Rose Bruford College this autumn, created by and featuring final-year Rose Bruford performance, design and production students and interpreted by the seven members of the Interpreters of Colour Network.
Deaf actor Nadia Nadarajah says,
‘I am a Deaf actor, dark skinned South Asian woman so the Interpreters of Colour Network is very important to me, because there is greater likelihood of a shared cultural understanding.
Rose Bruford College is an essential ingredient for those interpreters to develop their skills alongside their continual acquisition of Deaf culture and sign language.
With this combination, I believe the cohort can achieve the high quality and in turn I will be keen to book any one of them.’
Commenting on the partnership, Rose Bruford Honorary Fellow and actor Adjoa Andoh adds,
‘Audiences, casts and crews of colour living and working within different hearing/non-hearing scales should expect to be reflected amongst the cohort of sign language interpreting and translation professionals working today.
Director of IOCN, Jacqui Beckford has set in motion a programme in collaboration with Rose Bruford College to change that. As a friend and huge fan of Jacqui’s work, and as an Honorary Fellow of Rose Bruford College, I couldn’t be more excited by this partnership. We all want and need to be seen and reflected.’
Joint Artistic Director of Diverse City & Extraordinary Bodies Claire Hodgson comments,
‘It is tremendously important that we have a cohort of interpreters that are trained directly for the theatre. Rose Bruford College is an outstanding training institution and bringing together that expertise and the world of BSL means that the theatre industry will be provided with excellent talent to interpret the work that is created and reach new and wider audiences.’
Principal & CEO of Rose Bruford College Professor Randall Whittaker says,
‘This incredible partnership demonstrates what is possible to achieve when there is intention regarding representation and intersectionality. The creative arts should be accessible for all to participate and enjoy, I am proud that Rose Bruford College is actively engaged with this exciting project.’
Interpreters of Colour Network Director Jacqui Beckford adds,
‘I am delighted with the teaching opportunity Rose Bruford has offered enabling me to pay it forward to colleagues, who value my years of experience. For this endeavour to succeed, it was vital to incorporate the experience and expertise of Deaf creatives. This pathway is something that I wish I had access to in the infancy of my career’.
Following their training which is due to be completed in December this year, the seven members of the Interpreters of Colour Network are to be awarded a certificate that may be used towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD). This is a requirement as an interpreter, with members then aiming to accept work within the theatre industry to serve and support the Deaf community.
Dates and ticket details for the BSL performances this autumn at Rose Bruford College will be announced soon. Check the College’s events page for details.