Posts Tagged ‘Paul Whittaker.’

Total Access – No Regrets

Many people say “you should live life with no regrets” and this phrase has had me pondering for some time. If we take the word regret to not be too strong a term I would say I have regrets for everything I do. Life is too short and I can never accomplish everything I want to. Some days I regret not becoming a chef or fighting to go to performing arts school and becoming a West End superstar. Some days I regret that I don’t have bright red hair but if I had bright red hair I’d regret not having a subtle hair colour. Basically, the way I am using the word regret is my wish for everything and everything now.

Me and my many lives....

Pondering a word and my feelings toward it would not be the same without the obligatory OED reference, so for your reading pleasure:

regret n. feeling of sorrow about a loss, or of annoyance or repentance.
The Oxford Popular English Dictionary & Thesaurus, Oxford University Press 1995

My latest regret is one I wish to share with you. I was involved in a wonderful project with some fantastic deaf, disabled and non-disabled school children. As part of an inclusive process, a piece of theatre was devised and I appeared on stage as part of the performance to sign what was being said and to give access to any BSL using audience members. The project was a joy to be involved with and the young people (from 6 different schools) gelled so well in a short space of time. There were two performances at the end of the process which went swimmingly and I even got to try my first snippet of live audio description. I absolutely loved working with directors who had little or no experience of using a performance signer, it was nice to hear their feedback of how they had been educated on the possibilities of integrating that particular form of access on stage.

However, there were children I did not meet who were involved in this vast project. They created the set and sound for the piece. To me the sound was a really important part of the performance as it was specially and lovingly created for this show. Because it was recorded sound, there wasn’t any visual access for deaf audience members the same way there is for live music and it became apparent that I needed to find a way to convey this visually through using signs. However, having had little experience of this and little time to listen to the music before the performance it was difficult to implement, especially when dialogue occurred over the top of music. I managed to sign the emotion, pitch and theme for some of the pieces but my regret is that I feel I did not do these young composers justice in making their work accessible to a deaf audience.

I recently read an interview in The Stage with Angie Newman who currently signs the music for Rambert Dance Company having taken over from Paul Whittaker. She originally trained as a musician and uses her in depth understanding of music and her skills as a SLI to sign music.

She states:

I don’t know of anyone other than Paul Whittaker and myself who do this.”*

Whilst I appreciate it takes a specialised skill set to master, I would love theatre folk, interpreters and myself to be more educated on the topic. If anyone has seen Angie or Paul perform please let me know your thoughts.

So that is my recent regret and I must emphasise that the way I have used ‘regret’ in this blog is in a positive light, to better myself and the work I do. Especially with regards to creating accessible theatre, I love the challenges and creative opportunities it presents. Maybe there’s a better word for it that I have not used… once again another regret.

*Berry, K. 2012. 60 Second CV. The Stage. February 2