Toledo burlesque troupe offers sign language interpretersWritten by Danielle Stanton | | firstname.lastname@example.org
When husband and wife Joseph and Emmah Artino get together with friends, Emmah sometimes plays interpreter for her deaf husband.
But sometimes they would like to enjoy entertainment together without the burden of interpreting. Unfortunately, not many venues in town offer interpretive services.
So when Emmah won tickets to a T-Town Tassels show on July 12, 2014 — the day before her husband’s birthday — she decided to inquire about an interpreter for the show.
She called Barry Aslinger, producer of the Toledo-based burlesque troupe, who didn’t hesitate to offer support to the deaf community.
“She said, ‘Yeah, I’m excited, yet I can’t take my husband because it’s a language barrier and gap in the community,’” Aslinger said. “And she asked about [an interpreter], and I said, ‘Yes.’ She had someone else do the interpreting while she watched the show.”
Emmah said that July show was the first time she and her husband enjoyed live entertainment without worrying about an interpreter.
“It was such a relief,” Emmah said. “Joey and I had yet to ever go out and experience local, live entertainment with friends and all of us have equal access and enjoy the performance.”
The troupe is the “world’s only burlesque troupe with an American Sign Language (ASL) translator interpreting every event,” according to a news release.
“I don’t know of any burlesque troupe that offers an ASL interpreter as part of every show,” said Jimmy Berg, burlesque industry specialist for Brown Paper Tickets, the largest seller of burlesque event tickets in North America, in the release.
Emmah said she was grateful to her colleague, Delta Kimmel, at Bowling Green State University, where they both teach ASL, for being the interpreter that night, and to Aslinger for his willingness to make a Tassels show accessible to all
As well as being an ASL instructor, Emmah is a CODA — Child of a Deaf Adult (her father is deaf) — and a native ASL speaker since she was 9 months old.
Emmah has since become heavily involved in the T-Town Tassels burlesque shows as an interpreter. She will be interpreting at the group’s next show, March 28 at Collingwood Arts Center (CAC), 2413 Collingwood Blvd., along with two other interpreters.
Emmah will interpret for the show’s master of ceremonies and the other interpreters — one of whom is her mother — will interpret the lyrics to the music.
The show, called “Burlesque Through the Decades,” marks the troupe’s sixth production and its one-year anniversary. Half of the troupe’s productions have been fundraisers for nonprofits, and the T-Town Tassels have raised more than $2,000 for CAC.
Emmah is working closely with Lexi Staples, director of the CAC, to ensure the CAC will provide interpreters to all performances. She has also been working side by side with Aslinger to make “Burlesque Through the Decades” the most accessible it can be for the deaf community.
“Burlesque Through the Decades” will feature drag queen Deja D. Dellataro and honor burlesque dancing from the beginning of the 20th century.
Some of the decades include the 1940s, which will be a nod to Rosie the Riveter; the 1950s, with a nod to the American housewife; and the 1980s, with a nod to Star Wars, Emmah said.
Tickets are $15 while supplies last at Brown Paper Tickets event concierges’ 24/7 box office at (800) 838-3006, or through the CAC during regular box office hours. Tickets will be $20 at the door, if the event has not yet sold out.