Deaf Theatre

Research Guides

The Deaf Services Center has resources on deaf theater: scripts, videos and books.  We have a variety of plays on videotape and DVDs for your use.

Scripts

The Taste of Sunrise, Mother HicksandThe Edge of Peace / Suzan Zeder.

Three plays featuring a deaf character named Tuc. They take place in the small town of Ware, Illinois, at three stages of Tuc’s life from childhood to adulthood and also include several other characters whose lives are affected by Tuc.  Tuc serves as a silent witness to human dramas playing out on the stage. 

Tr​ibes / Nina Raine

A play about a family with a deaf member named Billy.  When Billy meets a woman with deaf parents who is going deaf herself, he finds his own identity and this leads to conflicts with his hearing relatives.  Issues covered by this play in addition to deaf identity issues include lipreading skills and family relations. 

Children of a Lesser God / Mark Howard Medoff.

Classic play about Sarah, a deaf maintenance worker in a deaf school and the speech therapist that falls in love with her. This play showcases the conflicts between deaf and hearing people against the backdrop of a romantic relationship. 

Tales from a Clubroom / Bernard Bragg and Eugene Bergman.

A play that showcases events at a deaf club. Deaf people from different stages of life are thrown together in a club where various human dramas play out: affairs, embezzlement, and loneliness.  Notes in the back of the book explain issues in the deaf community to the reader who may not be familiar with them. There is also a video of this in Deaf Services.

Vignettes of t​he deaf character and other plays / By Willy Conley.

Various plays that explore different aspects of theater, presenting the deaf view in various styles that challenge the reader/audience to think about deaf issues against the backdrop of experimental theater.

Sign me Alice and Laurent Clerc : a profile / Gilbert C. Eastman

Two plays written by a drama professor at Gallaudet.  Sign Me Alice is based on the plays Pygmalion and My Fair Lady.  It showcases the different sign systems then in use at the time when this play was produced in the 1970s.  Professor Higgins is transformed into an English signing professor named Dr. Zeno who attempts to transform the ASL using Eliza Doolittle character, named Alice Babel, into a perfect English signer.  Laurent Clerc: a Profile showcases the title character’s anguish at making a big decision to leave his native France and immigrate to America to be the first deaf teacher there. 

Whispers of a savage sort and other plays about the deaf American experience / Raymond Luczak.

Various plays written by Raymond Luczak.  The four plays in this book look at the issues affecting the small deaf community: gossip, bullying, AIDS, and communication technology.

Videos

Deaf Mosaic. Program 912

Documentary of the production of the play Under Milk Wood by the National Theatre of the Deaf. The camera crew follows the cast on their national tour, then goes behind the scenes to showcase the actors preparing for performances.  Then the documentary looks back at the rehearsal process and production of the play. 

Live at SMI

Performances by deaf people: Patrick Graybill, Bill Ennis, Gilbert Eastman, Mary Beth Miller, and CHALB (J. Charlie McKinney and Alan Barwiolek).  These DVDs showcase deaf humor, sign mime, deaf culture, deaf habits, and growing up deaf.  Sign Media, a corporation that produces deaf-related materials, produced these skits in a cabaret setting in their studios. 

Beauty and the Beast

1981 Emmy-award winning production by Fairmount Theatre of the Deaf, claimed to be the first residential sign-language theater in the United States, based in Cleveland, Ohio.

Musign

Local Bay Area deaf music group from the 1980s.  Robert Daniels interviews members of the Musign Theatre Company, which originated in the Bay Area in the 1980s and included local residents among its members.  This show features songs from Broadway musicals and 1950s rock and roll.

My Third Eye

Original production from the 1970s by National Theatre of the Deaf.  This was the first production created by the deaf company members of the theater and utilized satire among other things to showcase deaf issues.

William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

Directed by Peter Novak, associate professor of performing arts at University of San Francisco, and performed at the Amaryllis Theater Company in Philadelphia.  The result of a project to translate Shakespeare’s plays into American Sign Language. 

Reflections of a black deaf woman

Written and performed by Michelle Banks and performed at the Victory Theatre Center in January of 2006.  Banks tells of the trials and tribulations of two women from the perspective of Black Deaf culture.  This show merges two cultures together in a fascinating show that offers a unique perspective.

See What I'm Saying : the deaf entertainers documentary

Looks at the lives of four deaf performers: Bob Hilterman, Robert DeMayo, CJ Jones, and TL Forsberg.  Having already achieved recognition in the deaf community, they struggle to break into the mainstream culture.

What are you-- deaf?

CJ Jones talks about his deaf father in a performance at Deaf West Theater in May 2004. He uses multimedia projections to tell his stories in the setting of a boxing ring complete with punching bag to reflect his father’s passion for boxing. 

The Rosa Lee Show : 2004-2008

Over 90 minutes of original ASL stories in a variety of genres.

The Deaf Services Center contains videotapes of plays produced at National Technical Institute for the Deaf and Gallaudet.  They can be found under the call numbers VIDEO 792 and VIDEO 419.3.

Books

Pictures in the air : the story of the National Theatre of the Deaf / Stephen C. Baldwin

Chronicles the history of the National Theatre of the Deaf, established in 1967.  It showcases the history of deaf theater from Gallaudet’s drama club to drama clubs in New York to the establishment of a professional deaf theater that brought the “art” of sign language to a mainstream audience that now has led to a proliferation of deaf actors in mainstream theater and cinema.

Lessons in laughter : the autobiography of a deaf actor / by Bernard Bragg as signed to Eugene Bergman

Bragg gives a candid account of his life, from his childhood through college to teaching and finally, acting, a career that began when he met and studied with famed pantomimist Marcel Marceau and continued on to be one of the charter members of the National Theatre of the Deaf.

Vertical Files Subject Headings

The Deaf Services Center has vertical files on deaf theater under the following subject headings.  Please ask the library staff for assistance.

Theater

Children of a Lesser God- Stage Play

Deaf West Theatre Company

Musign Theatre Company

National Theatre Of The Deaf

New York Deaf Theatre

Theatre – ASL

Theatre – Deaf/Sign Language

Theatre - Interpreted
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