October 3, 2022
Wildlife Theater en Español y American Sign Language, Part 2
- as seen by -Priscilla Hernandez
The Wildlife Theater Program at the Wildlife Conservation Society inspires participants to learn and care more about animals and the natural world through storytelling, original music and song, puppets, and dancing.
Last year, during the Bronx Zoo’s Eric Carle’s World of Wildlife, we incorporated Spanish language into our theatrical performances for the first time. Building on the superb reception, we showcased another Spanglish language style show, Hola Pengüino, during the zoo’s Holiday Lights event. This summer, we offered trilingual theater with our Bird or Dinosaurio performance by incorporating American Sign Language interpretation into our programming. One of our ASL interpreters, M. Lisa Lockley (above, right), talks about how she translates our programs.
American Sign Language is a visual language with its own structure and grammatical rules. ASL is not a universal language as most people tend to believe. Our ability to successfully interpret the Wildlife Theater shows, and have a blast doing it, is assisted by several factors – having a script, attending rehearsals and audio recording it, interacting with the actors, and considering our audience.
When interpreting the shows, it is not word-for-word, instead, concepts are interpreted because ASL and English are two distinct languages. The puppets provide visual props, and we mimic a few characteristics of them (e.g. horns, wings, size). We refer the audience to the stage to watch the puppets. The actors’ movements are also mimicked to indicate which character was speaking.
When Spanish language is added, our approach is to interpret the program in ASL and mouth the Spanish. When the cast delivers lines at a faster pace and switches from English to Spanish or vice versus, we typically interpret the first language delivered. This same approach is applied to any bilingual songs.
We’re excited to keep exploring additional ways to reach broader audiences, ultimately helping us extend our reach, and help further welcome existing and new guests into our parks.
Catch our Wildlife Theater performances in October during Boo at the Zoo on Saturdays and Sundays and Monday, October 10. And watch for our trilingual shows as part of Holiday Lights beginning November 18.
EDITOR’S NOTE: To celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, Wild View is featuring posts on their contributions that continue to enrich science and conservation. Read Part 1 on including languages here.