Gallaudet University Press

11:9 Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Deaf Drama in America

Playwright Raymond Luczak Explores the Deaf Community
in a Collection of Signing-Driven Plays

In Whispers of a Savage Sort and Other Plays about the Deaf American Experience, writer and filmmaker Raymond Luczak presents four signing-driven plays depicting Deaf characters in situations that illuminate their community in fascinating detail rarely seen in any medium today. “When it comes to portraying Deaf people and their cultures onstage,” Luczak notes, “very few hearing playwrights get it right. The issue appears not to be so much about whether one can sign fluently in American Sign Language (ASL), but whether one is willing to accept the increasingly divergent aftereffects of educational philosophies about how we interact with one another. I believe that is becoming the much larger story of what it means to be Deaf in America today.”

“As a Deaf playwright, I feel even more obligated to ensure that my characters in a Deaf milieu are much more than cardboard cutouts or agitprops to support any particular political agenda. I did not want to preach. I felt it much more useful to instruct subversively through the guise of entertainment. I also wanted to aim for a more universality of my Deaf characters so that hearing audience members uninformed about deafness could still connect to the people onstage and see beyond their ears and hands. Stories are littered everywhere, and it is up to us storytellers to rescue them and craft them in ways that make our audiences sit up and see the world in new ways. It is my hope that these stage plays will enable you to see that it is time for other Deaf playwrights to focus the spotlight on more of those untold stories lurking in the shadows.”

Read an excerpt from Luczak’s play “Snooty,” and receive a savings of 20% off when you order Whispers of a Savage Sort today. When ordering online, type “SEP2009” in the box labeled “use promo code” located next to the “checkout” button. You may also order by mail.

In Signs and Voices: Deaf Culture, Identity, Language, and Arts, edited by Kristin A. Lindgren, Doreen DeLuca, and Donna Jo Napoli, researchers address all of the factors changing the cultural landscape for deaf people, including cochlear implants, genetic engineering, mainstreaming, and other ethical dilemmas. The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education published praise for this collection, stating, “the information is extremely interesting for a variety of experienced professionals who work with deaf people. And many of these chapters could stand alone as excellent readings for linguistics, translation, Deaf culture, Deaf education, or advanced American Sign Language (ASL) courses . . . And finally, the treat—this book comes with an excellent DVD. We can see the gestures in Nicaraguan Sign Language, the emotional ASL poems, and the exhilarating scenes from Shakespeare translated into ASL discussed in the text. Given the state of technology in today’s world, this should no longer be a ‘treat’ for readers but, rather, de rigueur for any text spotlighting ASL.” Read more about this cross-disciplinary study in chapter four, “I thought There Would Be More Helen Keller”: History through Deaf Eyes and Narratives of Representation. Order Signs and Voices here.

Deaf Professionals and Designated Interpreters: A New Paradigm, edited by Peter C. Hauser, Karen L. Finch, and Angela B. Hauser, “contains a wide range of highly illuminating reflections on the relationship between Deaf professionals and designated interpreters (interpreters who work with Deaf people across a range of employment domains),” notes The Sign Language Translator and Interpreter in its current issue. “Outlining the beginning of this new discipline, and based mainly on personal accounts of the experiences of Deaf professionals and interpreters, the volume offers valuable insights into a field that has yet to be explored in any real depth . . . [It] will hopefully inspire more empirical and data-driven research into this domain, the results of which must be disseminated to both Deaf and hearing colleagues, as well as be embedded in interpreter training programmes.” Read more about this engrossing collection in chapter one, “The Deaf Professional-Designated Interpreter Model,” and order Deaf Professionals and Designated Interpreters.

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