Palace theater to offer sign language interpretation | Lifestyles

LOCKPORT — Historic Palace Theater will begin providing American Sign Language interpretation for some stage shows after receiving a grant from the Cullen Foundation and the state Council on the Arts.

ASL interpreters will be tapped for one performance per show run, beginning with “Pippin” on Friday night, according to Palace executive director Christopher Parada.

“Five or six shows that we have here, there will be a sign language interpreter available to sign for the show for anyone who has that need to enjoy the performance,” he said.

The Palace already implemented methods to assist the hearing impaired during movie screenings, such as captioning and hearing-impaired headsets. ASL interpretation is the first enhancement of its stage productions. The theater has one year to spend down the $5,000 Cullen Foundation grant.

ASL experts from the University of Rochester visited the Palace last week and advised the staff on how interpretation of stage productions will work. At the outset, two interpreters will be positioned in a box seat with lights shown on them so they can be seen by the audience. Monitors will also be used to help the interpreters be visible. At least two interpreters will be needed so that dialogue can be properly interpreted.

ASL interpretation is not uncommon in live theater, according to Parada. Shea’s Buffalo Theater offers it for some shows.

“It’s as common as there’s funding for it. This is a skill and an art form for these interpreters who come and do this,” Parada said. “There are many people who need this benefit for them to enjoy the show.”

Two other non-profit organizations in Lockport were awarded an Expanding Access to Arts Funding in WNY grant. The Challenger Learning Center of Orleans, Niagara and Erie counties received $2,800, which treasurer Kristen Reetz said would be used to buy LEGO sets for the center’s new Exploring Architecture Through LEGO afterschool program. The Crossborder Tourism and Recreation Alliance, headed up by Kathy O’Keefe, also received a grant, according to the Cullen Foundation.

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