By Katie Benfield
Starting this Thursday and continuing on throughout the weekend, In/Visible Theatre will put on their performance of Without Words, a production that includes drama, dance, silence and sound as part of An Appalachian Summer Festival.
The play focuses on a 27-year-old deaf man named Ildefonso who never learned sign language and has been existing with a minimal amount of social and human interaction. However, he meets Susan, a sign language interpreter, and, despite all odds, she is determined to help him learn how to communicate.
According to Karen Sabo, the producing director for In/Visible Theatre, the play is a very unique production because it is bilingual. The story will be told in both English and American Sign Language, which will really open the audience up to a unique experience.
“In/Visible Theatre really tries to help people develop their empathy through a greater understanding of points of view,” Sabo said. “This play is a really cross-cultural production, and it will help both hearing and deaf audiences know what’s going on with the deaf community.
“It will definitely give hearing people a better understanding of this sub-culture that exists throughout our society.”
The production is all about communication and how it affects us as human beings. It presents the audience with an up-close look at the experiences of a deaf person who has no way to communicate in a society that relies on communication.
“This show is about how the tools of communication help us be a part of human society,” Sabo said. “For people in the deaf community who don’t get the basic human right of education, they are separated from the world around them and it inhibits them from joining and being a part of it.”
Without Words brings both the hearing and the deaf community together into the same world. Through this, In/Visible Theatre hopes to reach out to everyone in its audience, both deaf and hearing, and present them with a real-life story that helps them to understand each other better.
“I think for the deaf audience, this play will be a great source of pride and satisfaction in seeing them represented and their own stories and experiences reflected back at them,” Sabo said. “For hearing audiences, it will be a wonderful exploration of the community that lives with us that we don’t know much about, a community that’s a very under-recognized minority.
“For everyone, deaf and hearing, it will be an entertaining event that will help all of us grow and understand one another better.”
The cast consists of 14 people, a rather large number for a professional production. Five of these cast members are deaf, and they have traveled from all over the country to be a part of this play. Miles Barbee, one of the deaf cast members, came all the way from Los Angeles, California and after this production will be making his debut in his first Broadway show, Spring Awakening.
For more information on show times and purchasing tickets, visit the In/Visible Theatre website or call 828-387-7661.