Deaf Side Story: Deaf Sharks, Hearing Jets, and a Classic by Mark Rigney

By Mark Rigney

The 1957 vintage American musical "West aspect tale" has been staged via numerous neighborhood and college theater teams, yet none extra bold than the 2000 creation by means of MacMurray collage, a small tuition in Jacksonville, Illinois. Diane Brewer, the recent drama head on the university, made up our minds so as to add an additional point to the standard calls for of placing on a express by means of having deaf scholars practice half the components. "Deaf facet tale" offers a desirable narrative of Brewer and the cast's efforts to mount this difficult play. Brewer grew to become to the Illinois institution for the Deaf (ISD) to solid the Sharks, the Puerto Rican gang at odds with the Anglo Jets during this musical model of "Romeo and Juliet" set within the slums of latest York. listening to performers auditioned to be the Jets, and as soon as Brewer had solid her listening to Tony and deaf Maria, then got here the problem of educating all of them to sing/sign and dance the riveting convey numbers for which the musical is well known. She additionally needed to deal with a sequence of delicate matters, from making sure the seamless incorporation of yankee signal Language into the play to reassuring ISD directors and scholars that the construction wouldn't be symbolic of any clash among Deaf and listening to humans. writer Mark Rigney portrays beautifully the development of the creation, together with the frustrations and triumphs of the leads, the labyrinthine campus and group politics, and the inevitable clashes among the deaf highschool forged individuals and their listening to university opposite numbers. His representations of the numerous contributors concerned are actual and wonderful. the last word luck of the MacMurray construction reverberates in "Deaf aspect tale" as a willing depiction of the way a number of specified contributors from as many cultures may perhaps cooperate to accomplish a vintage American paintings shape brilliantly jointly.

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Extra resources for Deaf Side Story: Deaf Sharks, Hearing Jets, and a Classic American Musical

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ISD has only 150 high school students. Thus, it isn’t simply their heavy schedules that make their inclusion difficult, it’s their talent level. One hundred fifty is not a large number to sift through when in search of a likely Maria or Anita. When the committee suggests that auditions be opened to younger students, Diane refuses. It’s hard enough, she says, to work with high-school-age actors. Anyone younger would simply be, well, too young. As for including the younger kids in the project, the IAC grant demands that Christopher Smith work with all of ISD’s grade levels during the rehearsal process, involving them in dance study, performance routines, and various activities that will, despite being unrelated to West Side Story, at least provide every ISD child with some direct benefit from his presence.

Cara Hammond, by contrast, fits the Midwest. Her ears are triple pierced, and she often wears a bill-cap to work. She wears a conservative sweater with wide blue and white stripes. Her dark blonde hair does more or less exactly what it wants. Paula can remember a time, not so long ago, when ISD had its own theater and a regular drama club to go with it. The state of Illinois ran out of funds during a crucial year when the building needed immediate repairs. When these did not get done, the building sat empty, crumbling, and by the time the school found the money to fix the original problems, it became cheaper to simply knock it down, which they did.

According to some scholars, the basic plot line of warring families and star-crossed lovers dates to at least fifth-century Greece, although most would now identify Romeo and Juliet as West Side Story’s most direct progenitor. In both stories, lovers from opposing sides of a long-standing feud, the former familial, the latter ethnic, attempt to act out a romance despite the suspicions and ill will of even their closest allies and, in the end, one of them (the man in both cases, Romeo/Tony) dies for his trouble.

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