Translating Shakespeare into American Sign Language

By: Lindsey White,  Department of Performing & Media Arts
January 29, 2020

Peter Novak, chair and co-founder of the Performing Arts and Social Justice Program at the University of San Francisco, created and directed the groundbreaking production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in American Sign Language (ASL).

Expressing the complex rhymes, puns, and rhythms of Shakespeare’s words in the visual language of American Sign required a creative approach to overcome the obstacles of translation.

On Thursday, February 6, at 4:30 p.m., Novak will share the process behind this project during a lecture at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts’ Film Forum. The lecture will be simultaneously interpreted in ASL.

Novak’s academic research focuses on unconscious bias towards accented speech, advocacy, and accessibility in the arts, and Shakespeare in American Sign Language.

The lecture is free and open to the public. A Q&A will follow. The Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts is located at 430 College Avenue in Ithaca.

Peter Novak