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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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Vignettes of the Deaf Character and Other Plays
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[All of the characters except BIG CHEESE join in and do a little rap or hip-hop dance, with some repeating MIGHTY MOUSE’s signs above.]

BIG CHEESE: I don’t get it.
SWEET CORN: Did you notice your hero, Milk Shake, used the word “players?”
BLUE J: Not milkshake. Shakespeare!
QUEEN BEE: It’s like you can make any place in the world become a stage. And anyone can play on the stage.
BIG CHEESE: Well, I still think we should be serious about our work.
SWEET CORN: But, playing is important. It helps us become more imaginative, more creative.
BIG CHEESE: Well, these people here from schools all over the place came all this way to see us give a play. So, we should be serious, make it worth their time.
BLUE J: Excuse me.
BIG CHEESE: HEY! Don’t you throw sunflower seeds at me.
BLUE J: How do I get your attention? You’re always blabbing away.
BIG CHEESE: Next time, come over and tap me on the shoulder.

[BLUE J comes over and taps BIG CHEESE on the shoulder.]

BLUE J: What is (Fingerspells.) P-L-A-Y?
BIG CHEESE: Play? (As in “drama.”)
BIG CHEESE: You mean play-play? (Sign like in ‘‘playing around.”)
BLUE J: (Signs it four different ways.) Play-play, play, play, play, whatever.
SWEET CORN: Looks like it means many things.
MIGHTY MOUSE: Let’s go look it up in the dictionary.

[All except QUEEN BEE begin to run off stage. QUEEN BEE stomps her feet. Everyone stops suddenly, perhaps bunching up in a funny group pose, and slowly turn towards her. She pulls out a pocket dictionary.]

QUEEN BEE: Where are you going? I’ve got a dictionary right here.
BIG CHEESE: What do you carry around a dictionary for?
QUEEN BEE: You forgot that I’m also the Spelling Bee. HA-HAHA-HA . . . . (No one laughs.) Now, to look up p-l-a-y.

[The whole group crowds in trying to read. QUEEN BEE is about to explain the first definition but SWEET CORN beats her to it.]

SWEET CORN: Oh! Here’s one definition: “to play a musical instrument or to make sounds.”

[She pretends to play a flute; BLUE J pretends to play the drums; MIGHTY MOUSE plays the trombone; WATERCOLOR plays the harp; QUEEN BEE finally joins and plays the violin. BIG CHEESE makes vocal sounds. When everyone stops, BIG CHEESE continues to make loud, awful sounds with an awkward gesture. SWEET CORN taps him on the shoulder and tells him it is over. QUEEN BEE gets ready to explain another definition. BLUE J beats her to it.]

BLUE J: Ah! Here’s a good one: “to pretend or make-believe.”

[He gives an example of an imaginary telescope or similarly shaped object. The next character in line takes the telescope and transforms it into something else similar to the telescope shape. Everyone does a transformation with some type of rhythm. SWEET CORN, the last person, makes a conductor’s baton and orchestrates the group as they perform their ideas with rhythm. MIGHTY MOUSE beats QUEEN BEE to the next definition.]

MIGHTY MOUSE: OH YEAH! The most obvious definition: “it is what you call a performance on stage”—a P-L-A-Y. (Fingerspells.)

[The group does a melodramatic skit.]

BIG CHEESE: Well, let’s make a play!
QUEEN BEE: A play without using anything? Just mime and gestures?
BLUE J: She’s got a point. Why don’t we add some things? Use a little bit of everything.
BIG CHEESE: Okay, so what do we need?
SWEET CORN: Oh! Oh! Oh! . . . Actors!
MIGHTY MOUSE: We’ve got ’em. Right here.
SWEET CORN: Oh, um, . . . (Gestures.) Costumes?
MIGHTY MOUSE: Costumes. Very good! Go downstairs and see if you can find some old clothes.

[Upstage right, SWEET CORN sets up a flat horizontally as if she were opening an outside storm-cellar door. She exits behind the flat like walking down steps. Each actor who goes down “the cellar” should go with a unique exit (by steps, elevator, escalator, firefighter’s pole, rope, spiral staircase, etc.). WATERCOLOR gestures something about scenery and background.]

MIGHTY MOUSE: Scenery, background? Sure, go see if you can find some paint and something to paint on.

[WATERCOLOR sets up another flat horizontally, upstage left, and exits. Throughout all of the quirky exits, BIG CHEESE is puzzled at how everyone “leaves” the stage. QUEEN BEE gestures, “What about stage and curtains?”]

MIGHTY MOUSE: Go look around and see if you can find something for curtains.

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