Tag Archives: deaf student

Celebrate National Poetry Month with ASL Poet “Cyrano” at the Fountain

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.


Cyrano April 28 – June 10  (323) 663-1525     More Info

Obama Uses Sign Language with Deaf Student

President Obama signs "Thank you" to deaf student at recent event on March 15.

Deafness and sign language are clearly on our minds a lot these days as we rehearse with deaf and hearing actors for our upcoming signed/spoken production of Cyrano. No wonder this story caught our eye:

On March 15, a deaf Washington-area college student named Stephon was standing in line after an event on energy policy with President Obama and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, waiting for a chance to shake hands with the president. As the president was shaking hands and making his way through the crowd, he met up with Stephon, who was born deaf.

Stephon signed to the president:  “I am proud of you.”

Not missing a beat, President Obama signed back: “Thank you.”

Another deaf student then signed to the president, “I love you.” The president smiled back at her and shook her hand.

Watch the Video:

For Stephon, communicating with the President in sign language was an overwhelming experience:

“The moment I will never forget was when he looked at me. He gave me a chance to talk to him. It was like he was waiting for me to say something. I took the moment and signed “I am proud of you,” and his response was “Thank u” in sign language back! Oh my gosh! I was like wow! He understood me after I said I was proud of him. It was so amazing… I was just speechless. Right after he thanked me, he smiled at another deaf lady who signed “I love you.” When I shook his hand it did not feel like he was superior to me. He was just a humble man. I am just impressed by him.”