Sunday, February 16, 2020

ASL Performing Art Theatres for Deaf Actors and Audiences

MaxiAids encourages those who are deaf and hearing impaired to pursue their hobbies, interests, dreams and life goals by offering hearing products and devices for the deaf that enhance communication, independence, confidence and freedom.

Theatres for Deaf Actors offer the opportunity to communicate their acting skills live on stage, entertaining their deaf and hearing audiences.  Plays in American Sign Language give those who are interested in acting a place to perform in theatres all around the world.


Deaf Actors

Although deaf characters have been portrayed on television since the 1950s, a deaf actor didn’t appear until the 1960s.  In the 1970s, most of the deaf character roles were played by hearing actors. Deaf actress Linda Bove, who was known for Linda the Librarian on Sesame Street from 1971-2003, taught sign language on the children's hit television show.

When Linda (who did live theatre acting and in 1970 made her Broadway debut) heard Sesame Street was looking for a “new face” in 1971, she auditioned and won the part. They created a character just for her. She became a role model for millions of deaf and hearing children.  "Linda the Librarian" is currently the longest recurring role in television history for a person with a physical challenge.

By the 1980s, roles for deaf actors had begun to increase. Some of Linda's other television appearances included Search for Tomorrow as Melissa Hayley Weldon.  She appeared on an episode of Happy Days in 1980 as Fonzie’s girlfriend. Other television appearances included 3 episodes of Law & Order (2010), Weeds (2012), Farscape (2003, 2004), and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in 2016.  

Sign Language Theatre

In 1991, Linda and her husband founded Deaf West Theatre, a well-known sign-language theater located in Los Angeles, CA. Deaf and hearing actors use ASL and spoken or sung English. Linda and her husband have produced more than 40 plays and 4 musicals, winning more than 80 awards for their work. Deaf West Theatre is now recognized as the premiere sign language theatre in the United States, winning a Tony Honor of Excellence (2003), and receiving the U.S. Department of Health’s Secretary’s Highest Recognition Award (2005) for bridging the gap between deaf and hard of hearing through theatre performance.

MaxiAids supports the physically challenged, blind, low vision and deaf to live their best lives every day! Shop at MaxiAids for products that help you live life to the fullest.

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