Shakespeare’s iconic Globe Theatre in the heart of London combines the work of the original Globe Theatre, where Shakespeare’s plays were performed during his lifetime, as well as the Sam Wanamaker Theatre, which specialises in more artistic performances.
Shakespeare’s Globe have three strands to the work they do:
• Theatre production
• Tourist and exhibition
All of these services to promote the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries.
terptree first approached David Bellwood, Access Manager, in 2015 to see if we could work with them to help improve the experiences of deaf patrons. To our delight, David is responsible for providing physical and cognitive access to the Globe’s facilities, and improving access for deaf people is high on his agenda. David’s role is to make sure that reasonable adjustments are made so that everyone has equal access. He was, therefore, keen to speak with us about how our services and how terptree could help him with this.
We initially carried out a deaf access audit and made a series of recommendations on how things could be improved for deaf patrons. As part of this, we saw a performance of Richard II, viewed the exhibition and took a tour. This enabled us to see where a deaf patron might have difficulty in accessing all the Globe has to offer.
David told us that from the recommendations we made, Shakespeare’s Globe has been able to improve its facilities in a number of ways. “Since the audit, and with terptree’s support, we have carried out BSL Synopsis Workshops and expanded our work with deaf actors, filmmakers and directors. We work with terptree to support everything other than interpreting our performances, which are carried out by our longstanding provider. While we continue to work on improving deaf access, with an upcoming focus on tours, we would not be able to employ deaf actors without the interpreter support we get.”
When asked about the benefits of expanding interpreter support, David told us: “We find that having an interpreter at meetings makes the conversation more honest. People see we are making an effort, so speak more openly with us. In addition, because of the wide pool of interpreters terptree has access to, we have been able to expand our programme of meetings with deaf filmmakers and directors.
We want to continue working with terptree to provide this ongoing support and continually improve accessibility for deaf people we work with as well as our deaf patrons.”
When asked what he would say to anyone thinking of using terptree’s services, he said: “Firstly, just do it. I would absolutely recommend terptree as they are always reliable, have a wide pool of strong Sign Language Interpreters, which we often call upon at short notice, and they are all friendly and easy to work with.”
He also offered one piece of advice for anyone using Sign Language Interpreters:
“Make sure the interpreter is given full preparation about the requirements needed for the booking. This is essential in maximising the benefit to the deaf and hearing people involved and makes the booking run smoothly”
The terptree team have thoroughly enjoyed the work that we have undertaken with the team at Shakespeare’s Globe and looks forward to supporting them further in creating a World Class Deaf Theatre Experience.