When I was at Day of Arts for All, I got to talk to Bill Morgan. He is the Director of Signstage Theater in Cleveland. Signstage Theater aims to present plays that "both hearing and deaf audiences could understand and enjoy." Their objective was to entertain and educate both hearing and deaf adults and children and thereby achieve cultural integration, as Bill said.

            They have an innovative approach, to have the actors themselves speak all the lines and at the same time, sign them in American Sign Language. This simultaneous integration permits the deaf to follow both the action and the dialog without having to continuously switch their attention from the stage to an off-stage interpreter.

            While Signstage performs larger plays sometimes, such as Snow White, The Miracle Worker, or Children of a Lesser God, the ones that I saw that day focused on everyday problems communicating between hearing and deaf people. In one sketch, a man imitated a deaf person driving. In another, a sour restaurant owner kicks out a deaf customer after overcharging him. Problems that could've been solved if he'd given him a paper and pencil.

            Finally, they performed a "silent classroom" to teach audience members basic concepts in American Sign Language.  This way, it both opens new cultural doors between the deaf and hearing communities and helps create greater deaf sensitivity. I enjoyed the performances, and I love their mission statement to both entertain and educate. Way to go, Signstage!

Learn more about SignStage with Cleveland Speech and Hearing Center.

Below is an image of SignStage performing at Day of Arts for All. Two men wearing orange shirts sit in front of a black drape. The man on the right holds his hands up as though he is driving.