My workshops are designed to introduce Deaf and Hard of Hearing students to the world of theater and the beauty of American Sign Language. I may be a professional performer, but my other calling is to teach Theatre for future Deaf generations. I have been a Theatre Educator and Coordinator for In-School Workshops for Deaf and Hard of Hearing children within schools of USA for 11 years. These workshops introduce under-served youth to the theater world via the beauty of American Sign Language, giving students a chance to experience an up-close and personal look at theatre. I strongly believe that every human being has an artistic sense, especially those in Deaf Culture.
Observing healthy young children throughout the nation for herself has given her plenty of evidence that theatre has helped children discover and understand themselves and their relationship with the world. Additional benefits include the increase in self esteem that comes through dancing, singing, painting, or drawing, all of which actively engage the imagination. Using drama games and theatre techniques, children discover the possibilities of both verbal and non-verbal communication, the joy of storytelling, and how to use body and space to their best advantage. Drama can be taught in different ways, such as using thematic units or subjects in the classroom. You may be surprised by the level of detail children have absorbed into their imaginations.
Understanding the oppression and isolation that Deaf children experience growing up in a hearing world, I strongly feel that theatre is an important skill for all Deaf children to develop. Theatre is the one experience I believe helps Deaf children develop a sense of themselves as a strong Deaf person. Studying theatre provides Deaf children the opportunity to develop the self-discipline of a highly artistic sense, a necessary trait in all arts of life. It is common for an artist to try and make a living with his or her art, and desiring to give back to his or her community, transform his or her work as a cultural or universal symbol for all.
A common myth pervades society with the belief that artists who engage in theatre are those who lack attention in their personal lives. Aiming to dispel this notion, I know that theatre is more than this. It is a part of human nature to separate ourselves from people who are different and/or live differently. Theatre breaks that barrier of separation. As a Deaf person, I understands that there is a great divide between the Deaf and Hearing world. This chasm exists even within families and is always made painfully clear when a Deaf child is isolated in the midst of Hearing relatives. All this isolation and lack of communication leads to low self-esteem and a separatist mentality that prods a failure’s mentality.
The chasm between the Deaf and Hearing world can be bridged through theatre. Theatre allows people to experience the world of another person while yet remaining firmly anchored in their own. We come to experience and understand, emotionally and intellectually, that our lives can connect to another’s life, and our world, another world. This way, theatre ties together our own humanity.
The workshops shows theatre at its heart: a created thing, and its very creation determines what it is and what it does. We create theatre in such a way to express meaning, feeling, and spirit, so that the audience will have the opportunity to experience what was, is, and could be. Again, taking this workshop is stimulating, for the children grow in confidence, it in turn aids so many other aspects of their life. It’s a beautiful experience, witnessing students knowing that they are achieving something that they thought impossible. What’s more, it happens where they can grow, learn, and have a place to feel they belong. Accordingly, they enjoy the work from the workshops that allow them to showcase their talent and performance.
The program includes ASL story telling, improvisation, theatre games, physical movements, character break downs, cold readings, creative play writing, teamwork, acting, dancing, monologues, expanding American Sign Language, learning how to perform on big stage/little stage/classroom, and commonly, how to overcome stage fright. Traditionally, on the last day of the workshop, the students perform various pieces in front of other children from their school and their parents. Program brochure is available upon request.
I look forward to working with you!