Cathryn McShane on BSL supported Theatrical performances in the Welsh Language

“I feel providing access to Deaf audiences to Welsh language productions is significant because Deaf people in Wales have traditionally been excluded from this aspect of their culture and heritage.

From my experience, I am aware that Deaf children in schools are often exempted from the National Curriculum Welsh language requirements and historically even Welsh-speaking parents have been actively discouraged from using their mother tongue with their deaf children.  This has resulted in the Welsh Deaf community missing out on the rich and vibrant offerings that the Welsh language art scene provides.

Recently I have been involved in interpreting several plays that were once Eisteddfod pieces (Estron, Anweledig, Nos Sadwrn o Hyd and Merched Caerdydd).

The Eisteddfod to me is the epitome and hub when it comes to the best of contemporary Welsh writing and performing, so being able to facilitate access to these pieces to a Welsh audience who previously have not had access to Welsh culture in this form is a real privilege.

After agreeing to do one show two years ago, I have been inundated with enquires, and Deaf audience numbers have steadily increased (including individuals who had never been to the theatre before) so I’m really pleased with how these initiatives are developing. More recently companies are taking an interest in integrating BSL in their productions, so I can see scope for some really exciting work in the future.”

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