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13 Questions: Caroline Parker

by Ivy Broadhead

9th February 2010

Deaf actress Caroline Parker has signed her way across stage and screen, from BBC See Hear soap, Switch, to Murphy’s Law, with all sorts of theatre productions and outrageously costumed Priscilla Queen of the Desert-style signed singing in between. Her latest project is a one-woman show called Signs of a Star Shaped Diva.

In the show, Caroline plays Sue, a shy and retiring undertaker by day, who transforms into all-signing all-dancing cabaret Diva Tammy Frascati by night, sign-singing big numbers from Billie Holiday, Gloria Gaynor and Dusty Springfield.

Caroline put aside her Diva alter-ego to answer our 13 Questions.

I couldn’t function without...

Caroline Parker
Subtitles. When I am choosing a song I need to see the words written down, so the internet and having TV programmes subtitled has really helped with that.

My first job was...

At my parents’ restaurant in Cheshire, but I got my first career job with a theatre company when I was about twenty. I was thrown in at the deep end, having to learn a script and sign it, but my mime and dance training stood me in good stead. That was when I really started learning to sign, and even now I am still learning about BSL and how to use it.

What assumptions do people make about you?

I think they may get confused about my deafness. My speech is so clear and they don’t realise how deaf I actually am. People also get confused about what deafness is. I often get asked if I read Braille!

We would all be better off...

If we were more understanding of the fact that we’re all aiming for the same things. We can all learn about each other if we work and socialize together.
Caroline Parker

My motto is …

Always leave them wanting more. I try not to overstay my welcome.

I would like to ban...

Discrimination of any sort. I think it’s something everyone experiences in their life, and the people who discriminate sometimes don’t even know they’re doing it. It’s often about ignorance.
Caroline Parker

I get distracted by …

Food. My cooking is unpredictable, but eating is definitely a distraction for me. I love ice cream, and cheese, and garlic. It might be interesting all together; I’d like to try garlic ice cream!

There's nothing quite like...

Chilling with friends, sharing your views and the events of the day over food and wine.

My ideal dinner guests would be....

Stephen Fry, Julie Walters and one of the Chippendales. Stephen Fry always seems to have something to say, Julie Walters because she is one of my role models as a fantastic actress and we all need something aesthetically pleasing, hence the Chippendale. Enough food and wine will help us all get on.

Not a lot of people know that I...

Like kung fu films, especially funny ones like Kung Fu Hustle.

Compared to working with a cast...

A one-woman show feels very isolated on stage. but I’m not really alone, about twenty people work around me behind the scenes.

How did you become interested in signed singing?

I first saw signed songs before I really learned signing. I had always loved music and songs, so this was a good incentive for me to see how signing worked in a creative way rather than it being purely functional.

I hope that people who come to the show...

Will be encouraged to communicate more with deaf people, and be aware that sign language is not just words but feelings, and humour too.
Caroline Parker
www.graeae.org

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