D/deaf and hard of hearing
Sign Integrated performances
All British Sign Language performances at The Watermill are sign integrated. This means that the sign performer is onstage translating alongside the actors, delivering the signing from the heart of the action. Integrating the interpretation takes away the tough choice that BSL users must often make between following the action or following the language.
In our sign integrated performances The Watermill has been pioneering an approach that puts signing at the heart of the action. Our sign performers are embedded into the action on stage amongst the cast where they work closely with each cast member to emulate the character’s mannerisms and personality, incorporating those elements into the sign translation and performance. The result is two versions of the same character, one speaking and one signing, who interact with each other and the rest of the ensemble as equals. Thanks to all of these extra relationships and added layers of meaning given to the language, we think of these performances as not just sign integrated, but sign enhanced.
We believe passionately that by providing sign integrated performances we are offering access creatively and inspiring the next generation of theatre makers who are Deaf. Without seeing theatre, how can an ambition to perform or make theatre blossom? Without watching a broad range of theatre how can you cultivate a taste for what you like, as a theatre consumer? Emerging creative artists can only imagine themselves in an industry they have experienced, and you can only appreciate a production when you can take it in as a whole.
We would be delighted to support other arts organisations and theatres who would like to consult with us about our distinctive approach to sign integration.
Watch the video above to see an example of integrated signing.
Meet the Sign Performers
Lixi is a Level 6 BSL sign performer, based full-time in the Watermill Theatre Outreach department. One of the weekly Watermill youth theatre groups she runs is called Duologue. This group brings together Deaf and hearing young people and adults, and if you’re interested in trying the group, do get in touch. Lixi also Audio Describes at The Watermill, giving a live narration of the action on stage to audience members who have limited or no sight. Lixi has been creating sign integrated performances for The Watermill since 2016.
“I love the process of translating for the stage and rehearsing with the cast. When I’m onstage I try my best to create a mirror of each character I’m portraying and deliver my sign translation as simultaneously as possible with the actor.”
Ana is a fully qualified BSL interpreter with a background in theatre. She studied sign theatre at the University of Reading and has been working as a stage manager since 2012. Ana recently delved back into sign theatre at The Watermill, translating Twelfth Night in 2017. She also sign interprets and integrates professional productions both locally and in London.
“I love the feeling of matching an actor's character and line delivery so accurately and on point that the Deaf and hearing audiences both respond at the same time; that is when I know I have created a truly shared experience for Deaf and hearing patrons alike.”
Fliss is a registered sign language interpreter and completed her degree in Theatre Arts, Education and Deaf Studies at the University of Reading in 2008. She has been a keen observer of integrated signed performances, particularly at The Watermill and is extremely excited to be involved in this production. She draws on both BSL and Visual Vernacular to create an artistic interpretation on stage. Macbeth in 2019 was her first time creating an integrated performance.
"Working closely with the actors and my fellow sign performer has been key to creating this performance. I hope to do much more of it in the future!"
We welcome assistance dogs. Please let the box office know they'll be with you so we can offer a seat with space for you both.
Hearing assistance system
If you would like to make the onstage sound a little louder, you're welcome to borrow a personal headset that works with or without a hearing aid. You can ask for a headset or loop on the day from the Front of House team.
If you have any questions about accessibility at The Watermill, please contact the box office on 01635 46044 or email firstname.lastname@example.org