Wed. Oct 5th, 2022

‘Hamlet’ in Lichfield will be translated to British Sign Language this year by Rebecca Palmer.

Submitted by Lucy Elizabeth Dufaye

This year Shakespeare in the Park, Lichfield will be aiming to make theatre and Shakespeare in particular even more inclusive as they stage their first ever British Sign Language (BSL) translated performance.

The performance will take place on Saturday, June 25 with BSL translator, Rebecca Palmer, a 17-year-old student from Stafford.

What makes this even more remarkable is that the play is ‘Hamlet’, it is staged in the middle of a woodland glade.

Rebecca is a Year 13 Music Technology student studying at Birmingham Ormiston Academy (BOA).

As well as being a talent musician and producer, she is also a highly skilled British Sign Language translator. She said: “I started learning sign language in primary school when I was nine –learning BSL Level 1 and 2 with my mum and two of my sisters.

“I completely fell in love with the language and was lucky enough to have an incredible teacher: [email protected] who is a hugely talented Sign/Song performer in the Deaf Community. Watching her perform from such a young age really inspired me and drove my passion for signed performance in both the theatre and music setting.”

‘Hamlet’ in Lichfield will be translated to British Sign Language this year by Rebecca Palmer.

Rebecca is one of the youngest (if not the youngest) people to pass BSL level 3 which she learned in 2018-19 at Walsall deaf community centre. She is currently studying BSL level 6 (degree equivalent) with Sandwell Deaf community centre, which involves learning about and immersing yourself in deaf culture as well as the language itself.  

Rebecca’s only BSL theatre interpreting experience so far is interpreting for the Rainbow Pantomimes 2022 production of ‘Beauty and the Beast’, where she signed both the dialogue and the songs.

Rebecca said: “It was great fun. And I loved adapting songs to find different meanings to match the story line and the audience. I also enjoyed the use of expression and movement- mimicking the dance and the comedy element of the panto.”

Rebecca is excited to performing alongside Shakespeare in the Park and can’t wait to be on stage at such a beautiful venue at Maple Hayes Hall.

The language of Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ will provide many challenges. BSL has its own gramma, sentence structure and vocabulary. Rebecca will have to use a modern English text to cross reference and translate the meaning of the text instead of the script verbatim.

BSL concepts and meanings are shown visually with the topic based at the centre of the sentence. For example, the famous line “To be or not to be That is the question” would be signed “future live, die which, me wonder.”

Rebecca says: “It’s going …….


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