Currently working on something I think could be pretty special.Whatever the outcome regarding the final product of this piece of theatre, the discoveries ‘re the lack of support for D/deaf artists in Wales is enough to spur me on for the foreseeable future.
We didn’t find any D/deaf professional dancers to audition for us in Wales. We did however have people travelling from overseas to audition for us. Incredible.We hope we do this piece justice.Here is a sneaky peek of the BSL translation.
Giving social currency to British Sign Language is a huge want for me and a big reason for creating this piece. Being bilingual myself, Welsh and English, I have to admit to myself that over the past few years I have allowed the dominant language of this Country to overpower me, hugely, and am loosing Welsh words left right and centre. My 10 year old asks me “Mami, what’s the Welsh word for this?”…and I can’t think of it, and it makes me quite upset.
I have worked for people who have pulled me up for using the wrong mutation whilst working as a director with my actors, sending me into a territory where I no longer feel empowered to use my Valleys Welsh.
How do we sincerely nurture Cultures to sit side by side? During the translation from English into British Sign Language, what I came away with was a total trust in my impulses. For years the Welsh Language has been the victim of companies and organisations literally translating copy and words from English to Welsh, missing cultural essences and nuances and the character of our language. Standardizing a culture to ensure we ‘tick the Welsh Language box’.
Working with Daryl Jackson to translate this libretto filled me with confidence when he turned to me and said, “I can’t translate this because it would have no currency culturally.” Cultural appropriation and all that jazz. So hey, we ain’t gonna translate it but we are going to use Visual Vernacular to represent what the character is feeling. And boom….i feel at home, at last.
This project is both deaf and hearing led and that will be it’s beauty. Hearing audience will hear and see this libretto differently, more acutely and viscerally and deaf audiences will hopefully feel represented through Mark Smith’s beautiful use of BSL throughout his choreography, and our incredible D/deaf dancers, ensuring BSL has currency and is not just a point of access. I don’t speak Welsh just coz I want to understand something. I speak Welsh coz I speak Welsh and that is who I am. It has nothing to do with access.
Most of the World live bilingually. How on earth this, still to this day, fails to be represented on our stages am not quite sure. So am doing my little bit right here.
A little aside: no way, not on your nelly would I ever create this piece without it being deaf led. Just a little though when it comes, maybe, as a reference point to who is at the cultural heart of our Welsh companies. Innit.