The Auslan Master

Birth is Hard
September 20, 2016
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January 15, 2018
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If you told me last year that I would be working in the capacity of Auslan Master for a bilingual theatre performance, I would not have believed you. I enjoyed being a theatre-goer, but I never envisioned myself working in theatre.

Jess and Ilana approached me in early May with an opportunity to work on their inaugural performance as their Auslan Master. I saw this as a challenge…only that I wasn’t too sure of my abilities, as I had never done something like this before. My guts told me to grab the opportunity. I did.

I was nervous for our first full-team rehearsal. I wasn’t too sure of the team dynamics, as I was joining the third…or fourth rehearsal. I decided to dive right in, armed with my copy of the script, my linguistics knowledge, and my Deaf Lens. By the end of the day, I was mind-blown. We all fit in together. I felt I was a part of the team, not just some outsider.

Over the last four months, I started to see the importance of my role, and how it was essential to bringing the characters of Irene and Catherine to life. The signing styles were utmostly the responsibility of actors (Anna and Hilary), as they knew their characters better than I did. The script was heavy on metaphors, which meant there was a lot of translation work. I needed to utilise the entire team; Jess’s vision as the director, Ilana’s hearing perspective, and Hilary and Anna’s connectedness to their characters. I ensured the Auslan translations aligned with Jess’s vision of the performance.

I have never repeated two sentences so much in my life. “How do you feel about that?” “Let go of English”. The first sentence was essential for the actors because it helped them to reflect on how they signed each scene, and how it could be improved. Filming the scenes was important for the actors so they could watch and reflect, and discuss how they could improve the signing. If I couldn’t make to a rehearsal, scenes were filmed and uploaded onto our trusty Google Drive so I could view, and give feedback where necessary. The second statement was because I was responsible for ensuring the Auslan translation was done without too much reliance on English. Auslan is its own unique language, and I was responsible for it to flourish.

I really loved my journey as the Auslan Master, and I am looking forward to working on more productions for Deafferent Theatre. A massive thank you to Jess and Ilana for giving me this incredible opportunity, and to Anna and Hilary for being amazing to work with!

Here’s to more Auslan Mastering!

Sherrie x


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