A ceramic tile in the fashion of the TerpTheatre logo: and eye shaped in green on a background of blue.

 TerpTheatre | An environment for interpreters who take an extra step to make the theatre experience more enjoyable for Deaf audience members. What started as a loose affiliation of like-minded interpreters has been sustained through the commitment of its interpreters and a systematic method of approaching the art of interpreting on stage. In addition to performance interpreting, TerpTheatre offers consulting services and training. Please contact us for information about our services and availability.


While TerpTheatre’s team members have worked in a variety of sign language interpreting settings, our specialty is shadow interpreting on stage. Shadowed interpreters are placed on-stage with actors, and move throughout the stage space so that audience members can see the actor and understand dialogue at the same time. Since 1986, members of TerpTheatre have partnered with professional and community theatres throughout Michigan. In this unique approach, interpreters compliment the performance – and Deaf patrons participate more fully.

Teams of three begin script work four to six weeks prior to the interpreted performance: Two work on stage, while one acts as an understudy and ‘third eye.’ Rehearsals involve observation, script work, and time on stage developing and rehearsing blocking [ plans for movement on stage ] with actors and directors. The number of on-stage rehearsals varies based on production goals, director preference, and interpreter needs. We interpret one performance … all of them … or anything in the middle.


Everyone needs an extra set of eyes. TerpTheatre provides consulting to directors, actors and interpreters working to integrate interpreters into a production or prepare for a role. Drawing on experience spanning hundreds of productions over 25 years, TerpTheatre’s consulting has included:

  • Coaching/Mentoring interpreters working on stage
  • Sign Language coaching of actors
  • Script Translation
  • Script Review / Review of Concept
  • Production Consultation (approach, suitability, strategy)
  • Research


TerpTheatre is loaded with information about interpreting on stage – and we enjoy sharing! Our workshops are a blend of direct, technical information about how we do our work and hands-on exploration – often with live actors. Topics range from the physical techniques of shadowing to script analysis and even “the business.” Workshops at the local, state, regional and national RID [Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf] conventions have ranged in length from 3 to 8 hours, and can be combined for a multi-day training.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.