I had the pleasure and honour to provide the sign language interpretation for Stewart Lee's marvellous show 'Content Provider'. I wrote this as I began my preparation..
I watched the stand-up comedian Stewart Lee at Brighton Dome last night. I will watch the show again tonight & Saturday and then on Sunday will be there providing the sign language interpretation for the performance. It is the first time I have attempted to find linguistic & cultural equivalence within this domain and, as with any assignment, I begin by thinking about purpose and intention...the underpinning meaning(s) and then how to find relevance, within that intention, for sign language users...terms of reference, assumed knowledge, plays on words, shared experience...what is he trying to say and why? Then the second layer of actual linguistic choices; this sign or that one, that sentence construction or that? Which will resonate with the rhythms of his speech, with the rhythms of his comedy timing? How to deal with proper nouns?
The third layer: the 'geography/geographies'...Sign language is a spatial language and worlds can be constructed in the space in front, above and beside me...topographical space and syntactic space...I can carve and place, refer and re-refer...who and what are the key players in this text? Who or what does he keep returning and why?
The fourth layer: when to pause the interpretation and allow the visual imagery/facial expression/movement carry the narrative? Is there a point in a language-heavy evening when language is no longer needed to carry the message? Is there a message?
The fifth layer: will he want to acknowledge my presence? How do I hold myself within his kingdom...Are there moments of play together?
Layer six; how do I physically prepare to deliver 2 hours of material? the best shoes? Yoga mat, water, stretching and strengthening...
Layer seven, eight, nine and beyond are all about being; being there, being present, being receptive, being ready, being prepared to fly and travel with and within the marvelous brain of Stewart Lee