Tribes: #DeafTalent and Authentic Casting

Tribes_ArtistsRep_starts Feb 3

From ART’s Nicole Lane: “The model is Devon Ring….I wanted that single image to say a lot about the play and the central character. It was very important to me that the person’s hands that were pictured was actually Deaf – not just making a sign. I felt that the image needed to have integrity and be respectful.”

I’ve been working with Deaf people for a long time (I’m a sign language interpreter when I’m not at KBOO). It’s a rare event that my radio/journalism world and my Deaf world come together, and that too in pretty good harmony.

Thanks to the Artists Repertory Theater’s production of Tribes, I had this opportunity! This is a British play, written by Nina Raine, about a Hearing family full of literary academics who are anti-conformity. They have a deaf son, Billy, who never learned to sign nor did he venture into the Deaf World. That is, until he began dating a woman who does sign, and is losing her own hearing. This story tests our relationships with family and our choices in identity. Tribes made waves in London, on Broadway and now has come to Portland.

Stephen Drabicki

Dámaso Rodriguez

Dámaso Rodriguez

Director Dámaso Rodríguez took on this feat and hired deaf actor, Stephen Drabicki, outside the company after not finding the right deaf talent locally. They joined me in studio at KBOO Community Radio for the arts program, Stage & Studio. We talked about taking on the adventure of Tribes, and the importance of authentic casting for roles including deaf characters and how this benefits everyone involved.

Check out the podcast!

Air date: 2/17/2015

**Here is a transcript of the interview: SNS_Tribes_transcript

And check out more photos of scenes from the play here!

Last week, Stephen agreed to do an ASL interview with my via Skype! It was an experiment involving technological trust and Stephen was awesome! We talked about Eddie Redmayne winning an Oscar for portraying Stephen Hawking, in light of our discussion on #DeafTalent and #POCDeafTalent.

Here is the video of our interview – check it out!