Shakespeare or Bust



Shakespeare or Bust
Originally uploaded by Daniel Greene

I’ll be interpreting the Southwest Shakespeare Company‘s production of Richard III this Saturday at the Mesa Arts Center. I have listened to the readthru umpteen times, rented the movie with Ian McKellan, spent hours translating the Elizabethan English into ASL, seen the show four times and practiced interpreting it twice. Tonight I and my interpreting partner will do a “dress rehearsal” of interpreting the show on stage before an audience. The performance we will be interpreting will be the theater company’s second-to-last performance of this production. If anyone is interested in going, I have a limited number of free tickets.

Author: Daniel Greene

I facilitate communication between Deaf and hearing people, and I teach people American Sign Language (ASL) and interpreting. Apart from doing the work I love, my greatest joys are family & friends, entertainment, food, photography, and travel.

2 thoughts on “Shakespeare or Bust”

  1. Any suggestions for where to get help with K-12 interpreting of the Works of Shakespeare? Previous work with K-12 Hard of Hearing students consisted of them listening to the audio versions while reading along in the text and interpreting the discussions. This may be fine for HoH students, but what about Deaf students. How can we do justice to the language?

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    1. Sorry I got behind in my comments queue, Tracy.

      Those are really tough questions. What I’ve learned from interpreting a couple of Shakespeare plays is that it takes a lot of “workshopping” to do any justice to the language; i.e., it takes careful reading of the source text, reading the “No Fear Shakespeare” version, watching the play (so much of it makes sense when you actually see it performed!), and brainstorming translations ’til you’re blue in the face. I don’t think you can do justice to the language on the fly. It’s hard enough to do it justice after hours of translation and interpreting rehearsal.

      Another thing I learned about interpreting Shakespeare: you must let go of the words and go for the meanings, feelings, and images. Your ASL translation may bear little resemblance to the letter of the Bard’s lines, but it should convey the same emotion, narrative, and action that moves the play along.

      How to do this in a classroom? One idea would be to have the teacher coordinate efforts with a local theatre company to work on an ASL interpreted performance in conjunction with studying that play in the classroom. Both the hearing and deaf students would benefit tremendously just by seeing the play acted out and hearing the English or receiving the ASL. If the educational interpreters felt qualified, perhaps they could even be the ones to moonlight with the theatre company on the interpreted performance. What you learn in rehearsal would help you infinitely when it came to interpreting class discussions.

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