Tuesday, April 20, 2010
My Mentor, My Friend
In 1999, I attended the "Interpreting for the Theatre" Intensive workshop (master class, really) in NYC that was sponsored by the Theatre Development Fund's Theatre Access Program. I think there were 17 of us (?) studying in New York with Deaf people who were so theatre savvy and so articulate and so open to working with us and these interpreters!!! Incredible. I had never seen interpreting like this - so stunning and so impactful. When I left, I couldn't help but think that I should stop doing theatre because I couldn't do THAT. Later, I realized that we each have our own way and that I can only aspire to be the best ME that I can be. I committed to learning how to do that.
Later that year, I saw Alan and Candice Broeker-Penn and Lynette Taylor interpret "The Lion King". The house was packed and I was with a friend who was Deaf. I had been talking about the interpreters incessantly and finally, he said, "Stop it! They aren't going to live up to what you are saying and it will ruin it for me." So I stopped. Then we saw "The Lion King". I am not a person who weeps when watching sign language - it is a beautiful language, yes, but it is functional, visual, communicative. I use it every day (with a hearing accent, but daily, nonetheless). I teared up watching Alan interpret "Endless Night" - so powerful, so full of emotion and meaning. Not just meaning like, "Oh that song meant something to me" but meaning as in "THAT is what they are talking about in this song - he nailed it...perfect!" I felt like a dork and tried to surreptitiously wipe away my tears when I noticed my friend weeping. "You ok?" I signed. "Beautiful, " he replied.
In 2004, I was supposed to attend the program again but had a sudden surgery delay me.
In 2005, I went back and had an even richer, deeper experience. Just being around a master, listening to him talk, interacting with him, watching him work, listening to the questions he asked, the way he elicited a response...amazing.
Please don't misunderstand me - all of the instructors are amazing in the program...it's just that this post is about Alan because of his wonderful interview below.
Here is a great video interview of Alan about being a Sign Language Interpreter in the theatre. Enjoy!
American Theatre Wing's "In The Wings" with Alan Champion