National Theatre of the Deaf

National Theatre of the Deaf – CONTRIBUTIONS TO DEAF CULTURE

Mike Lamitola

There is not a more striking example of the power of art to transform lives than The National Theatre of the Deaf. In 1967 when NTD began, Sign Language was seen as a stigma. The talents of deaf people were largely untapped.

By placing Sign Language on stage, the National Theatre of the Deaf showed the world that Sign Language was a beautiful, powerful, visual language. The theatre going public to this day continues to be struck by the impact of this unique theatre. Seeing our productions, audiences experience a depth that cannot be equaled elsewhere. Some early audience members came out of guilt or pity, and came away with their eyes opened to a discovery of the first new art form to come about in the twentieth century. Deaf people reached new heights as actors and were perceived in a new light, as intelligent, employable people worthy of equal rights.

The National Theatre of the Deaf has been instrumental in opening up many other worlds for the deaf community. Captioned television, Telecommunication devices, Sign Language interpreters, bi-lingual, bi-cultural education are some of the benefits that have occurred because of the work the National Theatre of the Deaf has done. Two generations of children have seen company member Linda Bove on "Sesame Street." Gaining equal access to the political, social and cultural world, the doors are opening wider every day. There is no example of a faster advance of a minority group in the country. Sign Language is the third most used language in America.

Through its art, the National Theatre of the Deaf has created profound social change. Through its art form, doors began to open for the deaf population at large. The magic of it all has been the National Theatre of the Deaf's remarkable ability to entertain and inform at the same time.