Love Labour’s Lost

The Globe to Globe project sees the theatre staging 37 plays in 37 languages. Many cultures have been brought to The Globe Theatre to celebrate the World Shakespeare Festival 2012.

Personally, I love The Globe and I love Shakespeare. I also happen to love Sign Language so it was with utter excitement and delight that I attended Deafinitely Theatre’s production of Love Labour’s Lost.

Picture by Simon Annand via Facebook

Let me cut to the chase and say the performance was fabulous. I have never quite considered a relationship between BSL and the Bard but after having experienced a pure signed performance I can confidently say they are a potential match made in heaven.

A focus of the festival, which was highlighted by Deafinitely’s performance, was on language, in this case BSL. Sign Language was king, without the stigma of “impairment”, it did not matter if the actors were deaf, HoH or hearing, it was the language that was central to the show. The audience response strongly echoed this as tweets came flooding in such as

Hurruh to those who came with no knowledge of BSL and left with an appreciation for the richness of the language.

The cast were brilliant! It’s impossible to pick out any one exceptional performance as they were all of equal calibre.

David Sands got to do what he does best and engage with the audience in a highly energetic performance as Costard the fool. The King of Navarre was played with wonderful honesty by Stephen Collins. The Lords played by Matthew Gurney and Vitalis Katakinas had impressive energy (and equally impressive beards!) The Princess of France (Nadia Nadarajah) and her Ladies (Charlotte Arrowsmith, Donna Mullings and Patsy Palmer) portrayed the strong female characters with buckets of playfullness and sass. Brian Duffy played Boyet with fantastic physicality and Adam Bassett as Don Armado the Spaniard ended the performance with a signed poem that truly blew me away. Well done to all! A special mention must also go to the musicians who provided an aural background whilst offering comical engagement with the actors.

The translation from Shakespeare’s text to Sign was expertly done and the deaf cast performed so visually and made excellent use of the unique space that is the Globe Theatre. (A personal highlight being The King exiting the sage to the yard and crying on the shoulder of my friend’s sister.)

Picture by Simon Annand via Facebook

Ever since I was a young whippersnapper of a ‘BSL for Beginners’ student I have loved watching signed stories and found myself mesmerised by how visually descriptive BSL can be. Recently I found out about Visual Vernacular (VV) and it’s influence was clearly represented in the performance of Love Labour’s Lost. Shakespeare’s use of descriptive language made for a wonderfully visual performance that made BSL accessible to hearies (with the aid of surtitles).

The surtitled appeared on 2 screens and summarised the scene being performed in a sentence or a few words. The feedback I got from non BSL users was that they really got the gist of the storyline and I took pleasure in seeing hearing BSL students around the theatre who were clearly following the story and also picking up on some of the basic signs.

Whilst making BSL accessible to all was great, it was wonderful to see what felt like the entire Deaf Community in a packed house creating a buzzing atmosphere. Due to the nature of the theatre it was possible to sign a conversation across the Globe to a familiar face (another reason why Shakespeare and BSL are a perfect match). In my previous visits I have always enjoyed the atmosphere of being a groundling but this event without a doubt trumps them all.

Truly a historical event to remember!

Love Labour’s Lost is now embarking on their National tour, to ensure you don’t miss out check the dates and venues on Deafinitely’s website.

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Duffy on May 28, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    Pleased you mentioned VV in this blog. It’s is very underused in this country compared to Europe. Nice review! Pleased you enjoyed the show.


  2. I commonly don’t write comments on posts, but your article urged me to commend your writings. Thanks for writing this, I will certainly well-liked your site and come back as soon as in awhile. Pleased blogging.


  3. […] since enjoying Deafinitely Theatre’s production of Love’s Labour’s Lost involving their use of visual signed language I have been eagerly anticipating this performance and […]


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