Birth is Hard

From Disconnection to Inclusion: An Aussie in Edinburgh
October 9, 2015
The Auslan Master
October 11, 2016
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My presence on this blog has been rather quiet recently because I’m elbow deep in rehearsals with the wonderful cast and crew for ‘Black is the Colour’.

I once read that directing is like being a midwife. You are assisting the birth of a production. Rehearsal/birthing is a private act. Audiences only witness the outcome. Blood, sweat, and tears litter the rehearsal floor, and some days it’s like a Jackson Pollock work of art. I work with emotions, imaginations, and language. Above all, I work with humans. Actors, and crew members are not robots (SURPRISE!) This birth was not your usual, run-of-the-mill birth. It required extra time, extra attention, and extra love.

We are translating a script written in English by Daniel Keene. With Keene’s generous permission, we translated it into Auslan. Auslan is a language of its own, with attachments to a very unique community, and culture. I’ve realised that hearing people love the sound of their voice. So much so, they will speak about what they do in the moment. This approach does not work in Auslan. Auslan is visual, and it’s about shaping and transforming two-dimensional text into a thriving, visible, and tangible language. No move is wasted in Auslan. This translation process took more time than I originally anticipated. Noted.

Working in a different language means I relay/process information differently. I wear different lens. In rehearsal, I’m not looking for the voice, nor can I look down and write notes. My eyes are fixed on the characters. My brain works with visual elements. Even when I wrote design briefs, they referred to visual language. My wonderful lighting designer asked me what does the show ‘look’ like. A response was ‘A long firecracker’. You’ll soon find out why.

This project is the first (of many) for Deafferent Theatre. What started as a conversation in a lounge room has now become a reality with ticket-holders and supporters (thank you). Ilana and I knew our first project would be something special. This production is not political theatre. We are not shouting from the rooftops ‘We are capable!’ It is more of a demonstration that good theatre is good theatre. Period.

We are labouring right now behind closed doors. Our due date is September 24, and we’ll be accepting visitors until October 1.

Gratefully yours,
J x

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