HandShakes, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s ASL-English Shakespeare Interpretation Intensive, is a program for Deaf and hearing ASL/English interpreters to enhance their skill set around heightened language. Christopher Robinson, CSC’s Access Advocate and Program Director for HandShakes, states, “ASL Interpreters and Deaf artists and Deaf Sign Language Coaches are ambitiously seeking spaces to effectively, efficiently, and sustainably be creative with their languages. The exploration of the heightened language of Shakespeare in the HandShakes program space secures time and space for program participants to:

  • Enhance their signed language skills 
  • Build reflection skills on their craft across settings where ASL interpreters work, including, but not limited to, the education, legal, and medical fields. 
  • Provide a non-threatening framework to talk about complex subjects, including, inequity, representation, and through a Disability Justice, antiableist framework.”

For four consecutive Friday evenings and Saturday days, the cohort Deaf interpreters and hearing interpreters will work with Lead Facilitators Christopher Robinson and Rachel Berman-Kobylarz and master teachers to learn:  

  • The anti-ableist and team approach to theatre interpreting 
  • The fundamental ASL Handshapes (HS), palm orientations, common HS transitions, and compound signs that appear in English to ASL translations of the Shakespearean text in preparation for performances with CSC’s Apprentice Program Showcase.

These sessions will culminate in a small showcase of their work for invited guests only.

Facilitator Bios

Christopher Robinson

Christopher Robinson (Co-Facilitator of HandShakes!) joined Boston University as staff ASL/English interpreter in 2005 and when on to become the Coordinator of Outreach and Training at Boston University Disability & Access Services (DAS) in 2013. He has practiced as a Performing Arts ASL/English Interpreter since 1994. Much of his work as an ASL/English interpreter has been influenced by his conversations with the late playwright August Wilson. When not interpreting, he is a stage and television actor. Christopher has over 25 years experience as an ASL/English Interpreter, Mentor and national presenter in the content areas of inclusion practices in the Performing Arts, Mentorship for Interpreters, and Cross-Cultural Mediation within Deaf and hearing communities.

In 2001, Christopher entered the Conference Interpreter Mentorship Program (CIMP), a collaborative project with the then Northeastern University Interpreter Education Project and Boston University Center for Interpreter Education (BUCIE). Upon completion of the program in 2003, he went on to become coordinator of the program until 2006. From the Fall of 2007 to the Fall of 2008, Christopher was one of two lead facilitator trainers for the Gallaudet University Regional Interpreter Education Center (GUREIC) interpreter mentoring project, and most recently he was a program advisor and the lead facilitator for the National Community of Practice for ASL/English Interpreters for the College of St. Catherine’s Graduation to Certification program in 2017-2018

He is also Certified Facilitator in the LEGO® Serious Play™methodology. In this capacity, he organizes facilitated sessions to adjust student group programming practices, mitigate program barriers that obstruct the participation of persons with disabilities in campus life.

Rachel Berman-Kobylarz, MA

Rachel Berman-Kobylarz, MA (she/her) (Co-Facilitator of HandShakes!) was born Deaf in Las Vegas, NV and lived all over the US, recently moving to Boston with her husband and dog to work full-time as an Associate Academic Specialist at Northeastern University.  She has 12+ years of experience in college ASL instruction, consulted in the arts and entertainment industries (both hearing and Deaf theaters) as an ASL Coach/DASL and managed ASL Slam (Based in NYC) Denver for 2 years.  She is passionate about accessibility in arts and ensuring shows can be enjoyable by the Deaf/HoH audience through her work with the ASL interpreting team and productions.  Her favorite projects so far are Tribes and Night, Mother. She recently worked with Jesus Christ Superstar at Colonial Theatre and This is Treatment at Northeastern University. To learn more about Rachel, go to:

Rachel’s LinkedIn





Handshakes will cover a broad spectrum of curriculum including fundamental handshapes for Shakespearean translation, relationship building with venues, cast and director relations, the craft of reading Shakespearean text, creating “Stage presence” as an interpreter, and much more.


  • Kristin Johnson – HandShakes Participant
  • Aimee Robinson – HandShakes Participant

Additional Staff

  • Jess Meyer – HandShakes Program Associate
  • Em Rihl – HandShakes Virtual Support

Support for Commonwealth Shakespeare Company Provided by

Join our E-Newsletter!

Get the latest CSC News, directly to your inbox. From discounts and production announcements to educational opportunities and partnerships.