GCC Scholars’ Symposium – “What if Hamilton was deaf?” (just the song) – Alannah Gross

Abstract:

Stereotypes would suggest that Deaf people cannot benefit from musical theater. Those stereotypes are wrong. Theater is a largely visual medium, with colorful costumes and complex choreography. American Sign Language (ASL) is also a visual medium with its own motion, shapes, and timing. Deep ASL is not unlike dance. Most theaters attempting to accommodate for the Deaf will place an interpreter to one side of the stage. This creates a visual distraction and forces the Deaf audience to choose between understanding the dialog and experiencing the show.

This presentation will consist of four parts. First, we will demonstrate the issues with Deaf interpreting at a live performance. Second, we will perform Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down) from the hit Broadway production, Hamilton: An American Musical. Five Deaf Studies students, along with an ensemble, will perform and sign as their characters. Third, we will discuss performance-specific issues with staging a musical for a Deaf audience. Finally, we will open to questions from the audience. We hope to turn attitudes towards musical theater productions for the Deaf and Inspire better appreciation for the beauty of American Sign Language.
Cast:
Hamilton: Alannah Gross
Lafayette: Amber Foppes
Mulligan: Kelli Dumohsky
Laurens: Jessica Nelson
Washington: Mike White

Faculty Advisor: Chip Green

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