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Deafhood Monologues Playing Phoenix, Tucson

Deafhood Monologues
(Photo via deafhoodmonologues.com)
The Deafhood Monologues will show in Phoenix this weekend.

The monologue is a theatrical device that’s been used since the plays of Ancient Greece. The speaker addresses the audience and dramatizes their lines to draw out emotion.

A few years ago, one author created a series of monologues to be delivered in silence. That’s because they’re in American Sign Language, or ASL.

The Deafhood Monologues will show in Phoenix this weekend. The performance uses ASL to capture the experiences of the Deaf community.

Think about the way a line changes when someone emphasizes the words differently. An ASL speaker can add emphasis by exaggerating signs and facial expressions. The sign for “big” can just be made bigger.

And that’s what Jac Cook said is so great about sign language.

"How we sign it, it’s almost like a portal into our world. It’s 4-D, really it’s not 3-D, but 4-D. And people can just immerse themselves into our world and feel like they’re right there," Cook said through an interpreter.

Cook is the director for the Phoenix production of the Deafhood Monologues. She and other deaf women worked with author Ella Mae Lentz to gather real stories from the Deaf community and adapt them for stage.

"These aren’t just stories about how deaf people have broken ears. We are so much more than that," Lentz said through an interpreter.

The stories are about things like going to a ballgame but not being able to see the person signing the national anthem or deaf teachers who sign especially beautifully.

Lentz said these stories help hearing people better understand the Deaf community. And for deaf audience members, she said the joy is seeing their own stories in the spotlight.

“Wow! The entire show is about our experiences? The whole thing? From the hard times when we’ve struggled to the funny things that make us laugh?” Lentz said through an interpreter.

Lentz said this is one of the only shows out there that attempts to reframe the idea of deafness as a culture and identity. The proceeds from the performance will go to the Arizona Association for the Deaf and the Deafhood Foundation to continue that work offstage.

The Deafhood Monologues will be in Phoenix on Saturday at the Phoenix Day School for the Deaf. It’ll also show in Tucson on Sunday, and all shows will have an English interpreter.

The Deafhood Monologues - Arizona Ensemble from The Deafhood Foundation on Vimeo.

Annika Cline was a producer for KJZZ's The Show from 2014 to 2019.