Clarence Brown Theatre uses sign language to reach audiences

The holidays bring us many time honored traditions. One that many look forward to is Charles Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol performed at The Clarence Brown Theatre.

"It's a famous story I think largely because of the hope for redemption that it offers. There is always the possibility for change and change may come in all shapes and sizes and quite unexpectedly."

More recently The Clarence Brown Theatre has taken steps to expand its performances to a greater audience. "We are reaching out to a lot of different groups and one of them is the deaf community. We're trying to make an effort to open up the door to the theatre to as many people as we can, make it both accessible and something they look forward to."

Dr. David Smith of the UT Center on Deafness is excited for the performance. "Oh yes, I'm very excited about this play. Really it's nice that they we're able to provide the access to the deaf community for this Christmas classic, A Christmas Carol. I will be bringing my own family tonight as well and that's wonderful to be able to enjoy this show together."

Multiple interpreters use sign language to communicate the dialogue to the audience."We get the scripts a couple of months ahead of time and we sit down and analyze the text. Since this is Charles Dickens, the language is a bit of a challenge because there are things said in this play that you would never hear in your everyday life."

The challenges don't end there. The interpreters are responsible for relaying dialogue from multiple characters, lyrics to songs, all with their backs turned to the performance while still trying to convey the mood of the text."We have some really skilled interpreters that will pick up on a lot of emotional things as well. Sometimes they will even steal the show. They don't try to, but it happens."

"It doesn't matter what sort of difficulty we as individuals may have. All of us need to have a kind of a fantasy experience, an immersion into a world beyond our own."

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