Theatre Research Project:
Fall Update

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Research Team
Finding Interpreters
Travel Plans
First Surveys

Contact The Project Here

There’s been a lot of activity in the first few months of our research project focused on theatre interpreting and the blend of Deaf and hearing actors on stage.  Here’s a report on the status of the project, including my upcoming travel to Los Angeles, Washington DC and Philadelphia, and Chicago. While I’m in each city, I’ll be conducting interviews and discussion groups related to the project – I’d enjoy meeting you!

On behalf of the project team, many thanks for your interest and support,


Dan McDougall
Chair and Associate Professor
Sign Language Studies
Madonna University

Research Team Includes Students, Professors

The project’s research team took shape this summer. Throughout the project, students will work with faculty members and staff from Madonna University to formulate and conduct research activities. In addition to surveys and interviews, the project will document performance segments and techniques from interpreters and actors across the country. Students from the university’s Broadcast and Cinema Arts department will join the team to support these efforts.

The current research team includes several generously supportive members of the Madonna University faculty.  The team includes:

  • David Fulkerson — majoring in Sociology
  • De’La McClendon — majoring in Sign Language Studies and also Broadcast & Cinema Arts
  • Bridget Mitchell — graduate student in MATESOL (Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)
  • Glenn Fischer — Madonna University librarian and faculty
  • Gerald Charbonneau, PhD — faculty in the department of Sociology, Madonna University
  • Michelle Proctor, PhD — faculty and chair of Sociology, Madonna University
  • Dan McDougall — faculty and chair of Sign Language Studies, Madonna University

The team has begun to collect and organize all available information it can find related to interpreting for theatre, ASL performance, Deaf theatre companies, and blended Deaf/hearing casts. Already, we know that the topic is richly complex, and that the process of collecting references for our research will be on-going throughout the next two years (at least).

We Asked You To Raise Your Hand – And You Did!

One of our first tasks is to find out who “does theatre.” In August, we sent an email to RID members, asking them to contact the project if they were connected to interpreted theatre or ASL performing. We’ve received more than 175 responses, and have created a special email list for the project.  If you know someone who we should include in the project, please encourage them to fill out our contact form.

Our next focus will be reach out to theaters, to identify those that provide interpreting or specialize in ASL performance.  When we do that, we’ll also send an email to interpreters – asking for help spreading the word.

Upcoming Travel Includes Seeking Local Input

I will be traveling from November through January.  I plan to meet with interpreters, actors and others to discuss the details of the research project. Feedback from these discussions will help refine the objectives of the research project – and to shape the way that the project interacts with stakeholders across the country. Travel plans include:

  • Los Angeles: November 6 – 10
  • Washington, DC and Philadelphia: December 2 – 6
  • Chicago: January 30 – February 2, 2014

If you are a theatre interpreter or actor in any of these areas, let me know.  I can meet one-on-one, or with a group, and would enjoy getting the feedback of my colleagues before finalizing our research approach.

Surveys Coming: Spring 2014

With input gathered throughout the next two months, our team will begin to develop our research instruments. Our research will include surveys, interviews, and filmed segments of performances. We are likely to conduct surveys in stages, with the first stage occurring before the end of our Winter semester at Madonna Unviersity — May 2014.

Until then, the project will work to collect information about upcoming performances — either interpreted or performed in ASL. Travel will become an increasing focus as we begin to identify performances to see across the country.