Did you know there’s another play happening right now with deaf characters? Yes! Tru biz!
It’s called “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” based on Carson McCullers’ 1940 novel with the same title. It will play at Arkansas Repertory Theatre in Little Rock, Arkansas. This was also a film with Alan Arkin and Chuck McCann, two hearing actors who played two deaf characters.
According to a 2009 New York Times article, hearing actors were cast in the New York production almost a decade ago because the committee didn’t think deaf actors would speak well enough.
That’s when the deaf community protested against the play.
The story is about a deaf man named John Singer who lived in Georgia in the 1930s. Deaf actors Christopher Tester will perform as John Singer, and another deaf actor JW Guido will play John Singer’s friend, Spiros Antonapoulos. We at Tru Biz reached out to them for their thoughts. Take a look!
CHRISTOPHER: I say, hats off to the company, because they went out of their way to get two deaf actors for the two deaf roles in their story.
JW: It’s pretty impressive for the Arkansas Repertory to make this move, because my role, Antonapoulos is small but still very important. There are a number of hearing roles in this play. When they saw the deaf role, instead of using one of the hearing actors, they got a deaf actor to take on the role which showed their commitment to Deaf Talent. That touched me.
CHRISTOPHER: Plus there’s one interesting thing about John Singer, a very powerful decision made for the play was the fact that they decided to have John stop speaking, and only use sign language, but only with his deaf friend. If his deaf friend isn’t around, all he would do is write on paper back and forth. He wouldn’t teach sign, because sign is very personal and private to him. So he would write unless he was with his deaf friend.
This story can impact the Deaf community, and other communities as well. For those who have ever experienced feeling isolated or being left out. It makes the message universal.
It’s really beautiful and I’m proud to be in this play.
JW: You know my role, Antonapoulos? My character loves to eat. You would think this belly is enough for the role, but the director disagreed and wanted more. So…
I’m wearing this. My fat suit.
MELISSA: The show opened on August 25 and will run until September 10th. Congratulations, you two! Break fingers!