ASTRA: CALL FOR BSL INTERPRETER

Image shows a puppet of a pensive, dark-skinned child in front of a wild hedge and a blank sky emblazoned with a mysterious red icon.

Seeking a British Sign Language Interpreter with theatrical experience, for ASTRA: A Multimedia Theatre Production. Based on Naomi Foyle’s eco-science fiction quartet The Gaia Chronicles (Jo Fletcher Books), ASTRA is a live multimedia production funded by Arts Council England, the University of Chichester, and Brighton Pride Culture ConneX. The show will be action researched in community and professional settings between May-July 2022, and also relayed overseas in online film screenings. Feedback from these live and industry sharings will inform the next phase for the project, which we aim to develop as an accessible, inclusive and culturally diverse inter/national touring production.

Role of BSL in the Production

The promotional material will emphasise that the production uses a mix of traditional and integrated/creative Audio Description, BSL Interpretation, and subtitles, ensuring that people with visual and hearing impairments will not only be able to attend, but also enjoy a show that is specifically aimed at them.

The BSL Interpreter is imagined as a character in the play – the Ancient Mesopotamian goddess Istar. Istar is a powerful presence in the play, but invisible to the characters. The BSLI will dress in gold or silver and stand or sit on a dais embellished with lions, the symbols of Istar, and a spotlight will shine on the Interpreter whenever Istar is mentioned. The goddess interacts once with Astra, through shamanic telepathy. In this scene Istar will communicate directly with Astra, through BSL and a recorded voice. 

In future iterations of the show, we hope to develop the creative/integrated aspects of the BSL, but we feel this simple approach is accomplishable at this stage. To develop the idea of Istar as a character, it is possible that Istar sometimes communicates to the BSL users in comments and reflections other audience members do not hear. This would parallel the use of AD in the show, in which the Describer will give the thoughts of a side character (not Astra).

Schedule

ASTRA, a show of 70 minutes in length, will be rehearsed in May in Chichester, and there will be four live performances, including the Open Dress. Unless they need more time to prepare, the Interpreter will be required for one other rehearsal only:

  • Sat May 28 – Meet the Cast & Other Access Professionals/Run through, Chichester [3 hours, afternoon]
  • Tues May 31 – dress rehearsal and filming, with audience, Chichester [daytime event]
  • Weds June 1 – Brighton Fringe [evening event, daytime tech run and filming]
  • Sun June 12th ‒ live community sharing in central Brighton [early evening event]
  • Sun July 3 – live sharing in Chichester [daytime event]  

In addition, the show will be filmed, and the BSLI will also be required for the film. It is intended that the recording will take place during the dress rehearsal and on June 1st, prior to and during the show. Professional rates, Access Support and travel within the SE will be paid.

For more information on the show, please explore this website: www.astratheatre.earth

To express interest, please email Naomi Foyle and Raven Kaliana at: info@astratheatre.earth

Logos of supporting organisations: Brighton Fringe, urbanflo creative, University of Chichester, Brighton and Hove Pride/Culture ConneX, Arts Council England.

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