Robert Panara Discusses Deaf Plays

Length: 2:14

This leads us up to "DEAF Theatre" – previously we had been discussing for the most part "sign language theatre." Now we are going to start talking about DEAF Theatre. The difference is that "sign language theatre" is really Hearing plays that are performed in sign language for Hearing audiences. "Deaf Theatre" is plays written by a Deaf person about OUR Deaf experience.

The first Deaf play was by Gilbert Eastman entitled "Sign Me Alice," which was in performed in April 1973. One month later, Dorothy Miles’ work "A Play of Our Own" was performed in Hartford, CT. Those two were our first real examples of Deaf Theatre – written by Deaf playwrights, performed by Deaf actors, and based on the Deaf experience. The third related event, was various plays by the New York Deaf Theatre (NYDT) under the direction of Mary Beth Miller. NYDT performed many works about the Deaf experience successfully.

There is one more group I should mention – the Fairmount Theatre of the Deaf (FTD) of Cleveland, Ohio. Adrian Blue wrote a play called "Circus of Signs," which was very successful. It won the Cleveland Critics’ Award for Best Play in the city of Cleveland.