With the support of the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, the Ensworth Charitable Foundation, along with the State of Connecticut, Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts, the National Theater for the Deaf (NTD) held the third Theatre Immersion Program (TIP) in partnership with the American School for the Deaf (ASD) from July 30 to August 10, 2018. TIP provided Deaf high school students with workshops, theatre classes, seminars, and rehearsals that culminated in a showcase performance.
The 2018 Theater Immersion Program was facilitated by an experienced theater professional, Patrick Fischer, and two ASD staff members, KC Beauregard, and Bill Halscheild, encompassed workshops, theater/acting lessons, script development, rehearsals, impromptu performances, and culminated in a final student showcase production. The 2018 TIP program provided a student showcase performance on Thursday, August 9, 2018, which was performed by 10 students between the ages of 14 and 21 at the ASD’s recently opened Rockwell Visual Communications Center (VCC). ASD’s VCC is the first of its kind specially designed to maximize accessibility for deaf and hard of hearing students.
During the program, students created ASL stories utilizing only the handshapes of each letter of the alphabet and numerical digits one through ten. Approximately 120 ASD staff, students and community members attended the final showcase, which included performances of each ABC/Number story, along with ASL poetry and the production of Romeo & Juliet, Act V.
The Deaf high school students in the TIP program learned about the artistic development process from beginning to end and engaged in a hands-on process putting together their performance. These skills were developed through theatrical exercises designed to stimulate creativity, imagination, and theatrical inventiveness using NTD visual theatre techniques. Every participant in the program had several roles in the final performance.
TIP allows Deaf students to gain experience in theatre arts and thousands of such programs for hearing students is not provided in an environment that is receptive to the Deaf community’s language, culture, and norms. For over 50 years Deaf people have benefited from NTD programs as actors, actresses, support staff, volunteers and audience members, and many have gone on to have successful professional careers in the theater and arts.