An inspired deaf poet patterns his poetry of love with graceful, sensual movements of the hands. American Sign Language Skill of the deaf actor his body and hands a ballet of movement complemented by the sensuous voice of a hearing actor.
The deaf poet’s face expresses deep emotions of man and woman an afternoon of spellbinding theater. Sign language performers combine with speaking actors the stature of live theater lifts poetry to a new level of imagination.
Did you know April is National Poetry Month? What better way to celebrate the beauty of poetry than seeing it — not hearing it — expressed in front you by a skilled master? You’ll enjoy that rare treat in our upcoming world premiere of Cyrano, a new signed/spoken spin on the classic love story — now reset in a modern city. Cyrano is a brilliant deaf poet who writes and shares his poetry entirely with his hands, face and body in American Sign Language. And in the dazzling hands of actor and ASL-wizard Troy Kotsur as Cyrano, you’re in for a mesmerizing and unforgettable experience.
What is ASL Poetry? It’s impossible to convey in written words. You have to see it, experience it in the living moment. In the play, Cyrano describes it this way:
Cyrano: Surprised? A deaf poet? … Yes, a poem. In American Sign Language. Visual. Not written. It cannot be held on paper. It lives in the air. Composed and expressed aloft, in three dimensions. Vivid. Bold.
An ASL poem is meant to be shared face-to-face, in direct connection to another human being. Of course, YouTube has changed all that. Hundreds of ASL poems are now visually shared on Deaf Vlogs across the blogosphere.
To mark National Poetry Month, here is a video clip of the famous Emily Dickinson poem, “Hope is the Thing with Feathers”, signed by a deaf student. While this is not an example of an original ASL Poem, written and performed in ASL, it shows the timeless universal power of poetry. When Emily Dickinson wrote these words in Amherst more than 150 years ago, never in her wildest imagination could she have dreamed that they’d now be shared electronically world-wide on YouTube in Sign Language:
Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul, And sings the tune–without the words, And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard; And sore must be the storm That could abash the little bird That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land, And on the strangest sea; Yet, never, in extremity, It asked a crumb of me.
After a brief “welcome”, and giving the poem’s title, the deaf student begins.