Planning your first BSL interpreted show

You’re planning your first BSL interpreted performance – excellent!

The first thing to check is whether the show is suitable. If it is scripted, it should be suitable for interpretation, but if it is devised or improvised, you may need to check whether your interpreter is comfortable with this. Be open with them and tell them exactly what kind of show it is.

Next, work out your timescales. Interpreters need time to prepare, and you need time to plan the show. Signed Culture, previously known as Signed Performance in Theatre, recommend getting in touch with an interpreter as early as possible, up to 4-6 months in advance. Realistically, timescales are often shorter.

You need to consider:

  • Script. 6 weeks prior to the performance, the interpreter will need an up-to-date copy of the script. If this is not possible (because of a short run, for example) this should be flagged up and agreed in advance.
  • DVD of the show. The interpreter also needs a DVD of the show, also 6 weeks in advance so they can gain an understanding of the production. If the show is touring, you could ask one of the venues earlier in the tour to make a recording for you, or record a rehearsal if the run is very short.  The DVD is vital to the interpreter in enabling them to do their job. (A DVD can just be shot from a static point in the lighting box for example, but it needs to be of decent quality with good sound.)
  • Date of the interpreted performance. This needs to be scheduled so the interpreter has time to check their script and see the performance live at your venue at least twice (or at another venue if it’s on tour before it reaches you) before the date of the interpreted show.
  • Rehearsals. If it is a complex performance, it may aid the interpreter to attend rehearsals with the cast.
  • Avoiding clashes. Check listings on the Signed Culture website, and Theatre Sign (for London’s West End’s shows).


Now go to: Booking an interpreter