About Auslan Stage Left
Our Mission: To provide quality access to the arts for Deaf people.
Auslan Stage Left enables and provides quality Auslan interpreted events along with training for interpreters, Deaf consultants and productions in the area of arts, theatre and platform interpreting.
Auslan Stage Left was founded in 2013 by Susan Emerson, an accomplished Conference Level Auslan interpreter of over 30 years, specialising in International Sign and Musical Theatre, Medina Sumovic, an acclaimed Deaf actress, director and language consultant and Stef Linder an experienced Deaf interpreter, translator, language consultant and trainer. The founding team recognised the importance of equal access and were dedicated to bringing Auslan accessible theatre, comedy and festivals to the nation.
Auslan Stage Left has proudly worked on over 3000 events, and counting!
Susan Emerson is now the director, working alongside a dedicated team of marketing, administration and accounts people who are devoted members of the Australian Deaf and interpreting community.
Meet Our Team
Susan Emerson - Director
Susan is an accomplished NAATI Conference Level and WFD Accredited International Sign interpreter with over 35 years experience, specialising in musical theatre, sport, working with complex language needs and International Sign Language.
Susan’s career has seen her work across all genres of stage performance, in Australia and across the world. Some notable events and venues include: Wicked, Les Miserables, Walking with Dinosaurs, The Lion King, AFL Grand Final & Parade, Deaflympics 2005 & 2009, Midsumma Carnival, Australian Theatre of the Deaf, Singin’ in the Rain, Annie, The Wizard of Oz, King Kong, Mamma Mia, Hair: The Rock Musical, War Horse, Mrs Browns’ Boys, Melbourne Fringe Festival, Melbourne Theatre Company, Queensland Theatre Company, Sydney Theatre Company, Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne Writer’s Festival, the Dalai Lama, Moomba, Melbourne Festival, National Gallery of Victoria, Circus Oz, Mardi Gras, World Pride, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, ABC’s “Angry Boys”, The Wiggles, Melbourne Queer Film Festival, Shrek, Carols by Candlelight and much, much more!
Susan has completed her BEd (LOTE), Post Graduate Degree Auslan/English at Macquarie University, completed Media and Emergency Broadcast interpreter training at Monash University, and has sat on a number of theatre interpreting audition panels.
Her favourite productions? Wicked, The Lion King and Les Miserables.
Melissa Smith - Communications Coordinator
Melissa Smith is a CODA and an Auslan interpreter with many years experience in marketing and admin.
She is a wife and a mother of two boys and her lifetime experiences within the Deaf community are experiences that, she says, have enriched her life.
Melissa took her parents to see the interpreted performance of Georgy Girl – The Seekers Musical (The Seekers were a favourite of her father’s) and she commented on this show and on her work with Auslan Stage Left…. “Words cannot explain how excited and proud I was to see Auslan Stage Left make this story come alive for my dad. It was quite an emotional experience for us to be able to see that show together. Priceless! My favourite Auslan interpreted theatre performance was The Lion King. I felt that the interpreters offered so much to both the deaf and hearing audiences.
Growing up with Deaf parents and working in the deaf community, Melissa recognises the affect poor access has on a deaf person.
Melissa passionately supports inclusivity, accessibility and awareness and she is proud to work with talented Auslan interpreters and Deaf consultants to bring events to the deaf community nationally.
Abigail Honey - Administrator
Abigail is based in Sydney and has recently joined the team in 2023. She has been studying Auslan for a few years and has enjoyed becoming involved in the Deaf community.
Previously, Abigail has worked in theatre and film as an actor, writer and producer and continues to do some behind the scenes work in the field.
With a personal and professional background in theatre, Auslan Stage Left is a place where she can merge both areas she is passionate about and work across two communities she loves.
As she continues her study, she looks forward to starting her Diploma of Interpreting in Auslan and being able to work with a team of professionals to provide more access to theatre and performance.
Diana Ashley - Accounts
Diana is a native signer (Deaf of Deaf), to a family of deaf parents, sister, aunts and uncles. She is based in Sydney and has always been an active member of the deaf community. She has represented both NSW and Australia in netball and is a Life Member of Deaf Netball NSW.
Diana was the first Deaf Interpreter to work on television in Australia, as she sat alongside George Donikian on the SBS World News every night in the early 1980’s.
Diana has worked as the Auslan Stage Left Accounts Officer since 2021. She has mostly always worked in the deaf sector, previously for The Deaf Society of New South Wales and before that, Deafness Resources Australia.
Her interests are sport, travelling, swimming and walking, and doing puzzles. Since joining Auslan Stage Left, she has enjoyed gaining insight to the arts world and Auslan interpreters.
Her favourite interpreted production is The Sound of Music.
Diana has a Deaf husband & 2 adult children.