What if statistics had faces?
That was the driving question behind the 100% project, which started a decade ago in Germany. The project aims to showcase a hundred people from a certain area to answer questions and take part in an informal census – all on stage. Managing the workshop process with a hundred individuals is challenging enough, but when the 100% Stellenbosch project hit the town in February this year as a Woordfees production (during the University’s Centenary, no less!), another challenge presented itself: The hundred people, being representative of the area’s demographics, didn’t all have the same home language. That’s where the Language Centre came in.
100% Stellenbosch featured Afrikaans, English, isiXhosa and South African sign language speakers who all wanted to make their voices heard and be understood. Language Centre interpreters mediated communication by interpreting what was being said into the three other languages. These interpreters sat in at the workshops, making sure all the actors understood one another as they told their stories. During the performances, interpreting was also available to the audience.
This was something completely different to what the Language Centre interpreting team normally does. Usually they would interpret lectures in an academic setting, but for the 100% Stellenbosch production, they had to read and interpret the questions that were being displayed on the stage screen to the actors, communicate actors’ responses to both the audience and fellow performers and then interpret questions from the audience to the cast. Considering each of the four 100% Stellenbosch performances were almost two hours long, that’s a tall ask of any team!
Nevertheless, our interpreters said they thoroughly enjoyed the journey. Hats off to them, the organisers and the participants – together they made this project 100% unforgettable!