Pilot programme training British Sign Language interpreters in theatre pioneered by Rose Bruford College and Interpreters of Colour Network

Rose Bruford College and the Interpreters of Colour Network, a leading organisation addressing the underrepresentation of people of colour in the sign language interpreting and translation profession, have collaborated on a pioneering pilot programme training British Sign Language interpreters in best practice for theatre, within a drama school setting.

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.

To find out more check out the college’s website here.


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