Andrea Newland: Why my new play at Brighton Fringe has a BSL interpreter at every performance

Posted on May 25, 2017

It was 1995; I’d just left drama school – full of youth and hope and plans of treading the boards. I went to see a play at Battersea Arts Centre and everything changed: the actors were deaf and hearing and they were signing and speaking. I’d never seen anything like it, I’d never even seen sign language before. This elegant visual language intrigued me so the very next day I joined a Level 1 course in BSL. And so my journey began…

Through the years that followed my appreciation for BSL and deaf culture grew. I was lucky that I met so many deaf people who believed in me and encouraged me: from that fateful day of meeting Rebecca Mansell in an audition room (with my basic Level II) and leaving the day with her having persuaded me to be her CSW at the RNID!

Having both acting and sign language skills has presented fantastic opportunities: working with Graeae Theatre Company (Mother Courage), developing scripts with Deafinitely Theatre (Playing God, Ladies Night) and Switch (BBC).

I work now in Sussex & London as an actress and a British Sign Language Interpreter – not always at the same time! I love the journey that sign language has taken me on, the people I have met, and the friends I have made. Being an interpreter has its challenges, but mostly they are good challenges and ultimately it is the people, the culture and that beautiful language that fulfils me.

Now for the very first time I am co-producing a show with my friend, the writer/director Faye Hughes and Brighton based company, Actors of Dionysus, with whom I toured as Lysistrata, last year. It’s hard work but really very exciting. Our show SHE DENIED NOTHING will be playing as part of the Brighton Fringe Festival at Exeter Street Hall on 3rd & 4th June.

And as part of my commitment to and belief in access, every show will have a BSL interpreter.

Find out more here:

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