An interview with Cathryn Haulwen McShane

Hi Cathryn, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your practice?

I’ve been a practicing BSL/English interpreter for over 12 years. I am also a fluent Welsh speaker and have over the years been asked to do occasional BSL/Welsh interpreting assignments. Generally the majority of my assignments are in workplace, health, and legal settings. Last year I did my first full play which was a Welsh language production. I really enjoyed the intellectual challenge it posed and so was interested when the producers of Estron, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru approached me regarding a BSL interpretation.

Estron is a production in the Welsh Language. There is a BSL interpreted performance at Chapter Arts Centre on Wed 16 May at 7:00pm What response have you had from the Deaf community about your BSL provision?

We have only just started advertising, but I am aware that three Deaf people have already secured tickets. I have posted the BSL advert on social media and have had a lot of positive comments, and good luck messages! Generally the feedback I get is that Deaf audiences prefer BSL interpretation to captioning. In this instance captioning would be inaccessible to the majority of Deaf BSL users having had very limited opportunities and exposure to learn Welsh.

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision Are you aware of any barriers to equality and diversity for either Welsh or Wales based artists?

As mentioned previously, generally Deaf children do not have the same access to Welsh in education and therefore experience barriers to learning Welsh and to accessing the rich cultural offerings of their national heritage.

If you were able to fund an area of the arts in Wales what would this be and why?

Wow! Big question. Improving accessibility has to be high on the list. Making the arts more inclusive, but also I am passionate about participatory art forms and making these accessible to all.

What excites you about the arts in Wales?

We have so much fresh talent – and such a rich cultural heritage – we need to promote both.

What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?

As an audience member – Taking Flight’s family show addressing issues of mental health – ‘You’ve Got Dragons’ showcasing two young Deaf actors and their pioneering work in striving for accessibility for all.

As an interpreter – Rhodri Miles’ ‘Sieloc’ – one man show in the medium of Welsh, a play about Shakespeare’s character Shylock and a social history of the Jewish community. Originally in English, the play has been translated into several languages, and it was a privilege to work alongside Rhodri to render his Welsh translation into BSL.



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