EDUCATION & SCHOOLS
National Deaf High School Theatre Festival scheduled for SLC this month
SALT LAKE CITY — The National Deaf High School Theatre Festival will be held in Salt Lake City March 16-19, and the final performance will streamed live for viewers at a distance.
The Deaf Theatre Festival in Utah is just over a week away. Use the QR code to join this event by livestream.
The video has no audio. To learn more go to https://t.co/5P2H5YzsPO. Image: March 16 deaf theatre event to be held in Utah, students will perform. QR for details. #deaf pic.twitter.com/3PnLvHbYjC
— Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind USDB (@UtSchoolsDB) March 8, 2023
The Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind partnered with Tony Award-winning Deaf West Theatre to host the festival as a hybrid educational, theatrical competition for young deaf actors across the country. Students will travel to USDB for three days of theatrical workshops, with classes in acting, filmmaking, storytelling, dancing, performance, and more.
“Deaf West has always been committed to bridging the gap between the Deaf and hearing worlds, and when we found out the accessibility needs of students were being completely ignored, we knew we needed to help,” David Kurs, Artistic Director of Deaf West Theatre said.
Dr. Michelle Tanner, Associate Superintendent of the Utah School for the Deaf at USDB, said “after looking around and seeing that there were no other Deaf theatre festivals or competitions for high school students, we decided to launch our own annual National Deaf High School Theatre Festival.”
The in-person festival follows a six-week virtual component of workshops and activities. It begins Thursday at the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind’s Salt Lake City campus, with opening ceremonies and ice breakers. Friday, students will camp all day to focus on learning and making theatre together. Workshops and activities continue Saturday before the final nationally live-streamed performance. The evening will conclude with festival awards and a special performance from Sunshine 2.o.
Sarah Gubler, a senior at Jean Massieu School for the Deaf of USDB, said she enjoys acting and is looking forward to her parts — a monologue about how her character really doesn’t like chocolate, as well as her role as a pirate in another play.
“I’m really excited for the deaf festival, to meet various actors and to be able to see different deaf individuals acting skills. I really enjoy meeting new people,” Gubler said.
Sarah has won multiple national poetry reading competitions in the past and is interested in pursuing a career in acting.
Kelsey Ensign, a sixth grader, said she is excited to develop skills in acting at the festival.
“What I like about drama is being able to become different characters, you get to become different people,” Ensign said. “My advice for everyone is to not give up, just keep going.”
According to a press release, some of the teaching artists at the 2023 festival will include renowned artists like Jonaz McMillan, Storm Smith, Renca Dunn, and Sunshine 2.0 from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
The festival “gives young Deaf performers the ability to perform on a national stage, refine their skills through competition and feedback, use American Sign Language (ASL) as their medium for acting, experience professional theatre in an accessible language, and socialize with like-minded Deaf peers,” the release stated.
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Students at the Jean Massieu School for the Deaf agreed that they are excited to meet new people with similar interests during the festivities.
“My favorite thing about performing on stage is moving around and utilizing my body and sign language to be able to act,” sophomore Mauro Corrales said. He said he is excited to meet new people, to perform for them and to watch them perform.
Anyone can watch the final performances through the livestream or in-person at the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind’s Salt Lake City campus at 1655 E. 3300 South
The festivities celebrating the expressive power of sign language are made possible by support from The Kimball Family Fund, according to USDB.
The Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind is ranked no. 1 in the nation for high school completion, serving as an international model, according to the press release.
Deaf West Theatre was selected in 2005 to receive the Highest Recognition Award by the Secretary of Health and Human services for its ““distinguished contributions to improve and enrich the culture lives of Deaf and hard of hearing actors and theater patrons.”
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