Thu, May 01, 2014 - Page 5 News List

Visually, hearing impaired cast break barriers in play

ADAPTATION:The actors say they hope the performance will help audiences see blind and deaf people in a new light, much as it has altered their own views of disabilities

Staff writer, with CNA

Imagine standing on a stage, unable to see or hear, trying to convey enough emotion to touch and inspire an audience — that is the skill that a cast of visually and hearing impaired actors have been rehearsing over the past two months along with five other performers for a theatrical adaption of Taiwanese writer Kang Yun-wei’s (康芸薇) prose collection Wo Dai Ni You Shan Wan Shui (我帶你遊山玩水, “I Will Take You Sightseeing”).

The play is part of the Ministry of Culture’s “accessible reading” plan to promote literature and reading in special needs groups and schools.

Directed by dramatist Wang Chi-mei (汪其楣) and produced by blind soprano Chu Wan-hua (朱萬花), the play is about a woman and her children’s struggle to pull their lives together after her husband dies.

The cast of 18 actors are to perform the play at Eslite’s performance hall in Taipei’s Songshan Cultural and Creative Park on May 30 and 31, as well as at the National University of Tainan on June 18 and 19.

The visually impaired actors were given the play’s script in auditory format and had to learn sign language to communicate with their hearing impaired colleagues, said Wang, who founded the nation’s first theater troupe for actors with disabilities, the Taipei Pantomime Company, in 1977 and established Seeing Smiling Theatre of the Deaf in 2008.

“I’d never interacted so closely with blind people before. It’s very refreshing,” said Michael Chu (褚錫雄), a 61-year-old deaf actor with more than 35 years of experience.

He said his past performances focused more on miming, but that this play involves more vocalization and sign language.

“I hope the performance will show audiences a different side to deaf and blind people,” 31-year-old deaf actor Ouyang Lei said.

Blind actor Chang Che-jui (張哲瑞), 28, said that before joining the cast, he could not imagine having deaf friends because of the communication challenges, so the most rewarding part of the experience for him has been building friendships “that you never thought possible.”

The cast is aiming to overcome communication barriers by using beautiful body movements to move the audience, 60-year-old Wang Chao-he said.

Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) has urged the public to support the troupe by seeing the play.

Lung said seeing the actors perform could help people overcome their prejudices about disabilities.

This story has been viewed 1940 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top