One of the central messages of Backstage In Biscuit Land is that making theatre inclusive makes it better. One example of this is how much a sign language interpreter can add to a show – in our case this is partly because my tics can’t help but involving them in the action.
We’re very used to working with British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters but yesterday, for the first time, we were joined on stage by two American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters, Denise and Katherine. From my understanding, ASL is a completely different language from BSL so I was excited to see if this meant doing anything differently on stage.
One obvious difference was that we had two interpreters on stage, not one. I know that interpreters in the UK often work in pairs, particularly on long events, but we’ve only ever had one. What Katherine and Denise did was take on a character each: Katherine was me and Denise was Chopin. This arrangement helped to distinguish who was speaking.
Even though ASL’s a different language from BSL, some of the signs that I find most exciting in BSL – chainsaw, lamp-post and… pony cunt – were similar in ASL and equally exciting.
At one point I got totally distracted by the sign for ‘lamp-post’ and kept ticcing it over and over. This meant that Katherine kept signing it, which made it look as if she was doing an incredibly graceful, contemporary, lamp-post-based dance.
Tonight’s show will also be ASL interpreted. I’m really looking forward to sharing Biscuit Land with another audience here in LA – and to seeing the ASL lamp-post again.