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Aaron Weir Kelstone
Actor, Director, & Playwright
Aaron Weir Kelstone

Actor, Director, & Playwright

Aaron was born and raised in Kansas and attended the Kansas School for the Deaf (KSD) from 1956 to 1967. He was fortunate to have a strong performing arts program available to him while he was at KSD and that has instilled a life long love for the arts and literature.

Since then he has had opportunities to be an actor, director, and playwright.  All of this had contributed towards an enriching life experience that he remains fully grateful for having achieved.

His teachers at the school saw early on that he had potential to be a good teacher and encouraged him to follow that career direction. Naturally being a stubborn person he went on a long roundabout journey to other fields and experiences. However, late in his life he found his journey brought him back to teaching and the experience at NTID, Department of Cultural and Creative Studies has been an enriching experience for him.

He is currently working on his my Ph. D in education from Northeastern University with expectations to complete his work by 2012.

Master of Arts – English Literature Cleveland State University, 2001

Bachelor of Arts – English Literature Cleveland State University, 1994

Publications:

25 Cents

Alexandria Wailes
Alexandria Wailes

From her personal website:

In 2017, Alexandria worked on the revival of CHILDREN OF A LESSER GODas the director of Artistic Sign Language, which then found its home at Studio 54 in 2018. In the last two years, she worked as the ASL master for the third season of ABC's Quantico and for Sundance Now's This Close (both seasons).

From 2014-2016, she worked the fast and furious turn around of what became the Tony-nominated Deaf West production of SPRING AWAKENINGas the associate choreographer, also adding to her Broadway credits as Marlee Matlin's understudy for "Adult Woman" and proudly being given the role of "Adult Woman" for the show's final month at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

​Alexandria shared the stage with Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline in the Public Theatre's Shakespeare in the Park production of MOTHER COURAGE, adapted by Tony Kushner and directed by George C. Wolfe.

The list of incredible artists and collaborators she has worked with is...unbelievable.  Some are international A-list actors, globally known directors, composers and visual artists, rising performers who are triple, dare I say, quadruple threats and others are brilliant individuals from local communities.

In early 2013, she became a resident member of the Heidi Latsky Dance Company.  The company performed at the Google building in NYC, at American Dance Festival, at Montclair State University for their Peak Performance series, and in honor of the 2015 Americans with Disability Act (ADA) celebration, performed at the Whitney Museum as well as in public spaces around NYC - more specifically, in Times Square, Chinatown, Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Highline, and in the windows of the Atrium on the grounds of Lincoln Center in HLD’s site specific performance piece- On Display.

In true artist-freelancing-in-multi-tasking form, she is a museum educator for the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, Lincoln Center Performing Arts and the Jewish Museum.  You may see her featured in the Guggenheim’s online ASL vlogs highlighting a few of their works in the Thanhauser Gallery.

For nearly ten years, she was a teaching artist with Theatre Development Fund (TDF) and with Interactive Drama & Education Awareness in Schools (IDEAS).  She continues to work with TDF with ASL directing the interpreting teams for their 'hands up' performances.  Between TDF and Hands On, she has walked a mile in theatre interpreter 'shoes' and interpreted ALADDIN, Rodgers & Hammerstein's CINDERELLA, ON YOUR FEET and in at the Delacorte, in  KING LEAR and  TAMING OF THE SHREW.

Ethan Sinnott
Artistic Director-Gallaudet University
Ethan Sinnott

Artistic Director-Gallaudet University

From his personal blog site:

My creative nature, combined with my Deaf identity, have long defined the essence of who I am.

I may be the only Deaf scene designer actively and currently working in professional American theater, and within this field, I often collaborate with hearing artists who have never met a Deaf person before.

As a designer, again, the fact I'm Deaf has always influenced and informed my approach to unit sets as stage environments with the ability to seemingly transform themselves through scenic elements manipulated by actors, lighting, and/or machinery, with the goal of creating opportunities for visual rhythm and flow, a musicality in itself, rather than visual inertia and static associated with most unit sets. I think that’s in no small part due to the fact we are living in an era where the power of visually-oriented media—in all its forms--has been ascendant for some time now, and it aligns perfectly with the daily streams of consciousness familiar to Deaf people such as myself

When I design, I’m designing not only for the directors I work with, but for the lighting designers I work with, and for random Deaf audience members, too.

My passions are connected to theatre as a visual storytelling tradition: scenography and directing.

Michele Verhoosky
Actor & Playwright
Michele Verhoosky

Actor & Playwright

When Michele Verhoosky was a young child and would gather with her friends for fun and games, a popular choice was to create impromptu plays.  “That was one thing all my friends in the neighborhood would do,” Michele stated in a 1995 interview with her local paper, The Pictorial Gazette.  “We’d become kings and queens, and charge our mothers a nickel to witness our fabulous imaginations.”

During these times it was discovered Michele had a severe hearing loss.  Since that time the condition has progressively worsened to the point where Michele is now completely deaf in her left ear with approximately only15% of hearing in her right ear.  But that hasn’t stopped her from pursuing many interests and accomplishing many great things.

Michele studied children’s theatre, speech and oral interpretation at Emerson College in Boston, where she working and performing with their Children Theatre Department.  She went on to graduate Phi Beta Kappa, Magna cum laude from The University of Connecticut with a degree in English and Creative Writing.  Her progressive hearing loss led to learning sign language and studying playwriting and deaf theatre arts at The National Theatre of the Deaf.

She went on to be a two-time winner of The Sam Edwards Deaf Playwrights Contest, sponsored by New York Deaf Theatre.  A Laying of Hands was performed on Theatre Row in New York City, earning a rave review from The New York Times which stated “Her insights into despair, hope, wickedness and rascality are extraordinary, and often brilliantly exploited...what is most striking is how natural all this conversation is and how much it reveals about imagination, speech and silence.”  Her second award-winning play, I See The Moon was showcased by The National Theatre of the Deaf at their 1st International Deaf Playwrights Conference under the direction of Tony-award winner, Phyllis Frelich.

In 2002 Michele was commissioned by Debra Wise of Underground Railway Theatre to produce a new work for the famed Women On Top Theatre Festival.  Beyond The Blue, inspired by September 11th, premiered at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre.  Incorporating music, sign language and the spoken word, this mystical play is an incredible journey to the world beyond and the world within, crossing boundaries, revealing secrets, reclaiming lost love and—ultimately—setting it free.

“One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from my life is that what could have been viewed as my most severe disability has turned out to be my greatest ability,” Michele states about her deafness.  “It’s what enables me to dive completely into any of my myriad interests and lose myself completely.  I give it 100% focus.  It’s the same when I talk with people.  I have to give them my full attention to sign, lip-read and speak.  And you know what?  People love that!  The fact that somebody’s actually listening to them and interested in what they have to say.  And I love it because nine times out of ten a fabulous conversation ensues.”

A certified yoga instructor, Reiki Master, Hypnotherapist, Michele is a member of The Dramatists Guild, published poet, short-story writer, artist, musician, and songwriter.  She and her husband traded in their long-time affiliation with the rugged New England coastline to move to the “Prince-of-Tides” low country of the Carolinas.  They are the doting grandparents of three beautiful little girls and a Puerto Rican rescue puppy.

PLAYS:

  • A Laying of Hands (written in 1992) Winner of The Sam Edwards Deaf Playwright Contest sponsored by New York Deaf Theatre, A Laying of Hands was first produced by Onyx Theatre Company at Westbeth Theatre in 1995. A Laying of Hands moved to The Judith Anderson Theatre on Theatre Row, earning a rave review from The New York Times. Tours of the show have included performances at Gallaudet University and The University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
  • I See The Moon (written in 1994, winner of The Sam Edwards Deaf Playwright Contest sponsored by New York Deaf Theatre. Selected by The National Theatre of the Deaf for their 1st Worldwide Deaf Theatre Conference for a special showcase production under the direction of Tony-award winner Phyllis Frelich in 1995.
  • The Middle of Nowhere (written in 1997) Selected by The National Theatre of the Deaf for their 3rd Worldwide Deaf Theatre Conference for a special showcase production under the direction of Aaron Weir. Excerpt of this play published in DEAF WORLD, A Historical Reader and Primary Sourcebook edited by Lois Bragg (New York University Press, copyright 2001) in an article written by famed deaf playwright, and good friend, Willy Conley.

Shanny Mow
Actor, Director, & Playwright
Shanny Mow

Actor, Director, & Playwright

He was born in Stockton, CA, became deaf at the age of five from meningitis.  He received his B.S. in education from Gallaudet College and M.A. in Educational Administration from California State University at Northridge, and has taught at schools for the deaf in Montana, New Mexico and Hawaii.  He has also worked as a printer, photographer and ASL researcher.  Since joining the National Theatre of the Deaf in 1978 as an actor in Volponeand Early One Morning, Mow has served as Resident Playwright, instructor in Professional Theatre School, and artistic director of the Deaf Playwright Conference.  He continued to perform in numerous productions, the most recent being Oh, Figaro.   Mow was Artistic Director of Cleveland Signstage where his play Counterfeits was nominated for the American Theatre Critics New Play awards.  He once directed ‘night, mother  in Swedish Sign Language in Stockholm.  Currently, he resides in Santa Fe, NM, free-lancing as a playwright/director.

Education

  • Bachelor of Science in Education, Gallaudet College, 1961
  • MA in Educational Administration, California State University, Northridge, 1977
  • Postgraduate Study:  Linguistics, University. of California at San Diego; Educational
  •  Media, University of Tennessee; Special Education, San Francisco State College.

Biography information courtesy of Quest for Arts website-

Quest For Arts

Dorothy Miles
Actor & Playwright
Dorothy Miles

Actor & Playwright

August 19, 1931 - 1993

Dot Miles was a native of the U.K. and worked within the U.S. for many years.  Noted poet, playwright, performer and scholar, she was well loved and respected by many in the Deaf-world.  She is hailed as being one of the earliest poets to try to represent and respect English and Natural sign language in poetry.  She created works in both British Sign Language (BSL) and American Sign Language (ASL) as well as in written English.  Dot graduated from Gallaudet University ('61) with distinctions and performed with the National Theatre of the Deaf.

We are very grateful to have permission to reproduce Dorothy Miles' wonderful play, "Troubles Just Beginning: A Play of Our Own" here in addition to two of her scolarly writings about Deaf Theatre.

Photo courtesy of the National Theatre of the Deaf

Lewis Merkin
Actor & Playwright
Lewis Merkin

Actor & Playwright

Lewis Merkin-playwright (with Drew Emery): Language of One. Currently resides in New York City. Professional actor for over 28 years: Broadway (original Cast-Children of a Lesser God); off-Broadway; national and international tours and regional (Los Angeles and Seattle). Lewis is also a nationally certified sign language interpreter (CDI) and is proud to be third generation Deaf in his family.

NOTE: The phone number listed on the script is out of date. To reach the playwright you may use-

718-305-2682

VP- 866-954-6755

Eric Malzkuhn
Actor & Playwright
Eric Malzkuhn

Actor & Playwright

April 21, 1922 - January 23, 2008

Eric Malzkuhn, commonly known as Malz, was a dedicated and exemplinary actor, teacher, sign language master, and playwright.  By all accounts Malz's love for ASL and the English language was infectious.  He graduated from Gallaudet University ('43)  and later was awarded an honorary doctorate.  Malz was involved in the National Theatre of the Deaf and assisted with several translations of classics.  He is most well known for his performance in the Gallaudet production of Arsenic and Old Lace, which was performed on Broadway, and for his translation work on the Jabberwocky into ASL and George Veditz's  Preservation of Sign Language ASL speech into English.

MSSD, the Deaf high school on Gallaudet's campus, has its auditorium named in Malz's honor due to the many years he taught there and directed their productions. We are very fortunate to have his play Color of Love in this on-line collection of Deaf plays.

Photo courtesy of Melissa Malzkuhn

Raymond Luczak
Director & Playwright
Raymond Luczak

Director & Playwright

Raymond Luczak is the author and editor of ten books, including the award-winning novel MEN WITH THEIR HANDS (Suspect Thoughts Press) and the anthology EYES OF DESIRE 2: A DEAF GLBT READER(Handtype Press).  Thirteen of his plays have been performed in three countries so far.  His comedy, SNOOTY, the first place winner of the Samuel Edwards Deaf Playwright Competition 1990, was later published as a book by the Tactile Mind Press; it will be reprinted in his collection of full-length plays called PLAYING IT BY EYE: STAGE PLAYS ABOUT THE DEAF AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, which GallaudetUniversity Press will bring out in September 2009.  Also a filmmaker with two full-length documentaries to his credit, he lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

His web site is www.raymondluczak.com.

Photo by Louis M. Miranda

Publications:

Eyes of Desire 2

Eyes of Desire 1

Silence is a four letter word

When I am dead

Stephen Baldwin
Playwright
Stephen Baldwin

Playwright

Playwright of several Deaf-themed plays. Dr. Steve Baldwin was born on March 2, 1944 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Before living in Texas the last 28 years since 1980, he worked in Wisconsin, Louisiana, New Mexico, Massachusetts and Utah as a teacher and administrator.

He has three college degrees and several teaching certificates. From Gallaudet, he received a BA in history, from CSUN, an MA in deaf education, and from the University of Texas at Austin, a doctorate in theatre history.

He has won many awards, honors and recognition for his writings and leadership, particularly the NAD Literary Award, Greenmun Memorial Award, and West Texas Chamber of Commerce Cultural Award. He is currently in two athletic halls of fame as a record-breaking long distance runner: GU Hall of Fame and USA Deaf Sports Federation.

He has produced over 20 of his own plays, scripted an award–winning minidocumentary, authored the NTD history book, wrote 122 interview shows, and published over 75 articles on a variety of subjects. He just completed his first screenplay and is now working on a new book.

Dr. Baldwin is now a retired educator who lives in Austin, Texas and is serving his second term as president of the Texas Association of the Deaf as well as the editor as The Deaf Texan.

Reproduced in this website are:

  • Obstacles, Develop, Divide, Destroy (Section 1 and 2)
  • Deaf Smith

Publication: Pictures in the Air

Tom Holcomb
Actor & Director
Tom Holcomb

Actor & Director

Thomas K. Holcomb comes from a multigenerational Deaf family.  His parents, grandparents, children and grandchild are all Deaf.  Currently, Tom is Professor of Deaf Studies at Ohlone College in Fremont, California where he teaches courses related to Deaf Culture, Deaf Education and Interpreting to both deaf and hearing students.  Previously, he taught at San Jose State University and National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology.

Tom is considered a leading authority on Deaf Culture.  He was awarded with the Teacher of the Year Award by American Sign Language Teacher Association (ASLTA) in 2002.  He is well known for his dynamic presentation style which he uses to bring together deaf and hearing people and has presented in 45 states and several international countries including Japan, Sweden, Chile and Canada. He is also an accomplished storyteller and is the featured performer in the Boys Town Press videotape series, Read With Me:  Stories for Your Deaf Child.  His two DVD productions entitled See What I Mean: Differences Between Deaf and Hearing Cultures and A Sign of Respect:  Strategies for Effective Deaf/Hearing Interactions, have received widespread acclaim for their humorous yet effective portrayal of the deaf experience.  In addition, a book he co-authored with his brother and father, Deaf Culture, Our Way illustrates the unique experiences of deaf people living in the mainstream.  It is now considered a classic in Deaf literature.

Tom’s theatrical experiences began when Eric Malzkuhn took him under his wings when he was a student at Model Secondary School for the Deaf.  There, he performed as Artful Dodger in the Oliver Twist production and received the Joe Veditz award.  While at Gallaudet, he was on the cast for two different productions, Ah Wilderness and Sherlock Holmes.  Upon graduation from Gallaudet, he coordinated the development of four different plays with the involvement of the deaf community.  They include:  DeafnastyThe Week The World Heard GallaudetHear No Scream:  AIDS in the Deaf Community, and Side by Side.

Tom’s academic credentials include a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Gallaudet University, Master’s degree in Career and Human Resources Development from Rochester Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from University of Rochester.

Drew Emery
Playwright
Drew Emery

Playwright

Hearing playwright (with Deaf playwright Lewis Merkin) of the play "Language of One."

Writer, director and filmmaker Drew Emery has created a significant body of community-centered work while living in Seattle for the past 17 years. After receiving his MFA in playwriting from the University of Virginia and winning the Virginia Playwriting Prize and the Howard Scammon Drama Prize, Drew moved to Seattle and began working with Alice B. Theatre, a gay & lesbian theatre for all people.

In addition to co-directing the nation's first national lesbian and gay theatre conference, Drew collaborated with various artists to create Hidden History: True Stories from Seattle's Lesbian & Gay Elders and Language of One, the personal odyssey of a deaf gay man.

Language of One went on to a successful Equity showcase production at New York Deaf Theatre, which Drew directed, and a run at the Sydney Mardi Gras Festival, produced by Australian Theatre of the Deaf. Other theatrical work includes Solo for Four, a short performance poem for queer youth and contributions to Voices of Christmas at the late great Group Theatre. In 2004, Drew collaborated with Eric Lane Barnes on the book for The Stops, a new musical that premiered in Seattle at The Empty Space Theatre and produced by DramaQueen.

After receiving a Seattle Arts Commission Seattle Artists Award in 1998, Drew broadened his artistic work to include fiction and poetry. But it is his foundation in oral history storytelling that has led him on a path of documentary filmmaking.

In 2000, Drew received a City of Seattle ArtsUp community collaboration grant to partner with the Seattle LGBT Community Center and create The Bridge, a video documentary built around a virtual dialogue between lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender elders and queer youth. The culmination of a two-year process that involved significant community outreach, workshops and, ultimately, 45 one-on-one on-camera interviews, The Bridge was made with a single mini-DV camera and a laptop. Premiering in November 2002 at The Broadway Performance Hall, The Bridge was created to address a generational divide within the LGBT communities but ultimately became a film about growing up and growing old. By unleashing the power of first-hand stories from everyday storytellers, this project became a springboard for the creation of the True Stories Project and the development of Inlaws & Outlaws.

After Inlaws & Outlaws premiered to sold-out houses at the Seattle International Film Festival, Drew was chosen as a runner-up for Best Director. The film has since gone on to win the Grand Jury Award at the deadCENTER Film Festival, Best Local Film at the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival and Best of Fest at the Palm Springs Film Festival.

Gilbert Eastman
Actor & Director
Gilbert Eastman

Actor & Director

(1934-2006)

Gil Eastman was an alumnus of the American School for the Deaf and Gallaudet University.  He founded the Theatre department at Gallaudet, where he directed and inspired many young Deaf actors.

He was involved in the founding of the National Theatre of the Deaf (NTD).  Eastman wrote and produced several Deaf plays.  Sign Me Alice(inspired by Pygmalion and My Fair Lady) is an important work examining the Tower of Communication Babel with the onslaught of various sign systems being utilized in Deaf education and later wrote Sign Me Alice II.  He also wrote Laurent Clerc: A Profile, about the famous French Deaf teacher who came to the U.S. to help Thomas Gallaudet found the American School for the Deaf and who is often credited as bringing French Sign Language to Deaf Americans.  He wrote several other plays, directed numerous productions, and taught many theatre classes.

Eastman became a  Deaf American household figure entering our homes as one of the hosts for the Deaf Mosaic news program, which was produced by Gallaudet University.  He also helped to develop the concept of Visual Gestural Communication (VCG) to more deeply examine visual communication and theatrics.

Publications:

Just A Deaf Person's thoughts

Sign Me Alice & Clerc

Patti Durr
Playwright
Patti Durr

Playwright

Patti is Associate Professor in the Cultural and Creative Studies Department at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York.  Durr was one of the founders of Lights On! Deaf Theatre, a community theatre company committed to plays about the Deaf experience, and served as artistic director for several years.  She wrote the play, META, about a Deaf Jewish survivor of the Holocaust being befriended by an African-American college student, which was produced by NTID and Lights ON! in 1993.  She was also artistic director of the first Deaf Rochester Film Festival (DRFF) in 2005.

Durr has made written and directed several educational videos for NTID/RIT:

  • The Grey Area: His Date / Her Rape
  • HIV and AIDS Prevention Video for Deaf Students
  • Me Too (monologues on relationship and sexual violence)
  • Deaf Artists Interviews (with Paula Grcevic)

Narrative films:

  • Don't Mind? (with Elizabeth Sorkin)
  • Page Me (with Elizabeth Sorkin)

Documentary film:

  • EXODUS: A Deaf Jewish Family Escapes the Holocaust

Durr has also been information architect, content expert / curator, and producer of three websites for NTID/RIT:

Willy Conley
Playwright
Willy Conley

Playwright

Conley, a professor and chairperson of the Theatre Arts department at Gallaudet University, is an award-winning playwright who has published in American Theatre, The Deaf Way II Anthology, Deaf World, Theatre For Young Audiences Today, The Tactile Mind, No Walls of Stone and Deaf American Poetry. He has two books, Broken Spokes and a new one due out in May 2009 – Vignettes of the Deaf Character and Other Plays by Gallaudet University Press.

His plays have had professional productions nationwide and internationally, including the Kennedy Center, the Boston Center for the Arts, ARBOS, the Boston Playwrights Theatre, Centerstage, the National Theatre of the Deaf, Imagination Stage, Olney Theatre, Amaryllis Theatre, Bailiwick Repertory Theatre, Omaha Diner Theatre, and off-off Broadway.

He has garnered awards from the VSA arts 2000 Playwrights Discovery Competition, the Sam Edwards Deaf Playwrights Competition, The American Deaf Drama Festival, the Baltimore Playwrights Festival, the ‘97 and ‘99 NeWorks Festival in Boston, the Laurent Clerc Cultural Fund, the Lamia Ink! International One-Page-Play Festival, a PEW/National Theatre Artist Residency grant, and the 2007-2008 Schaefer Professorship.

He holds a B.S. degree in Biomedical Photographic Communication from R.I.T., a certification as a Registered Biological Photographer (#319), an M.A. in Creative Writing/Playwriting from Boston University (where he studied with Nobel Laureate, Derek Walcott), and an M.F.A. in Interdisciplinary/Intercultural Theatre from Towson University.

He is an Associate Artist with Center Stage, an Affiliate Artist with Quest: Arts for Everyone, and an Associate member of The Dramatists Guild.  Conley lives in Hanover, Maryland with his wife, Stella, son Clayton, and Kadi, their Welsh Corgi.

Publications:

Vignettes of the Deaf Character and Other Plays

Bernard Bragg
Playwright
Bernard Bragg

Playwright

An accomplished actor, director, playwright and lecturer, Bernard Bragg has trekked around the globe for fifty years beginning in 1956 when he studied with Marcel Marceau in Paris upon his invitation. As if that was hardly sufficient, he arking on yet another trip to Europe in January 2009 to deliver a keynote address at BDA Conference in England. In the 1960s, he played an instrumental role during the formative years of the NTD, contributing as an NTD leading actor, administrator, and sign master for ten years. Readers will remember him in The Quiet Man TV series as well as in CBS's A Child's Christmas in Wales and TV movie And Your Name is Jonah, among many others. He has written numerous articles and several books related to theatre and signed arts. Among his many national and international awards, Mr. Bragg was awarded an honorary doctorate in Human Letters from Gallaudet in recognition of his extraordinary service to deaf people of the world in theatre, education and communication. He was also awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from World Federation of the Deaf in appreciation of his pioneering efforts in theatre, culture and signed arts. A resident of California, Mr. Bragg continues to enjoy giving lectures, workshops and one-man shows around the country and aboard.

Publications:

Lessons in laughter

Signs of silence

Eugene Bergman
Playwright
Eugene Bergman

Playwright

Dr. Eugene Bergman has co-authored with Bernard Bragg the play Tales From a Clubroomand is the co-author, together with Trent Batson, of Angels and Outcasts, an anthology widely used in Deaf Studies classes. More recently, he has authored the short story "A Morning in the Ghetto," Midstream, March-April 2008, and the memoir, Survival Artist: A Holocaust Memoir, was published in the spring of 2009 by McFarland Publishing.

Publications:

Survival Artist: A Memoir of the Holocaust