My son is the only middle school kid (grade 6 the others are in high school) In an original Comedia Del'Arte play. This means there is a script but it involves a lot of improve. He is the only Deaf kid. When he auditioned he was told they never cast sixth graders but the audition process would be a good experience. Well the director loved him. So now comes the question of how will they fit a Deaf kid into a principal role? Yea, principal meaning he has a big part.
I ask myself how does this work . It is 3/4 stage which means there are tables, did I mention it is dinner theater, almost all around the stage. It is a comedy and language isa tool. The actors wear comedia masks so expression is delivered through the body. Facial expression is important for ASL. How will a kid who communicates though ASL be able to convey his lines with out the use of his face? What about the interpreters? To be perfectly honest I know he can act but I was surprised that the director was so willing to bring him on.
One thing I am curious about is how will the interpreters work the show? He has a team of two and they will not be the interpreters for the audience. When the show is audience interpreted will the stage be full of interpreters? I found out his will be back stage.....hmmm... how will he know his cues?
Well I recently went to a theater showcase at the school and I got a taste of what is to come. My son is taking the mandatory intro theater class along with the role he has in the theater company. His class preformed a little ditty from Lewis Carroll's poem from "Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There "
"Jabberwockey" here is a bit of what was preformed with voice and movement,
"Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe."
To quote Alice, "It seems very pretty," she said when she had finished it, "but it's rather hard to understand!"
Well the hearing kids did their thing moving and talking with strong rhythm and my son was up front to the right signing this poem. The space he filled was full of narrative and magic. His body looked bigger than it did in the morning and his ASL more artistic. There was such passion and confidence in his space. I am not allowed to video any show at this school but I wish I could. There are really no words in English to describe what I saw. The spell was broken for a moment when someone right behind me said, " Do you see that girl up there? She is using sign language I think, wow that is so beautiful". Well you see my son has hair to his shoulders in keeping with his Comedia play and he has to tie it back for other shows. It just so happens he looks like a pretty girl if you don't get up close and see the boyish features and surfer clothes . I wanted to turn and say ,
" That is my SON!" but I let it go so they could enjoy the show and not get rapped up in our lives.
Right before intermission there was a "commercial" or sneak peek at the Comedia show. My son was the featured principal.
What happened next was a complete surprise. The Cuban music quartet and my son were working the stage as if it was their home. The hearing actors were talking and he moved seamlessly with them. When it was over I realized there was no interpreting. I had no idea a Deaf kid had just lead the show. He hadn't sign a word............and yet with a mask I knew what he said with out a sign. So I had just a taste but realized language is universal in some ways when we experience art.
The show opens soon. I will be curious still to see how he fits but more how they pulled off the magic of a great show. If you are close by the interpreted show is Feb. 20th at noon and the tickets are reduced for that show $12. He really wants some deaf people to come.
order tickets here,