Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Monique Holt
Produced by New York Deaf Theatre
Nominations: Outstanding Original Music: Daniel Steffey; Outstanding Sound Design: Daniel Steffey; Outstanding Lighting Design: Luther Frank, Russ Bockemhuel; Outstanding Innovative Design: Luther Frank, Russ Bockemhuel
About the Company: New York Deaf Theatre (NYTD) is a not‐for‐profit, professional theatre organization that gives Deaf and hard-of-hearing-artists in the New York City area a creative and artistic home where they are the number one priority. We believe in using theatre to break down cultural barriers for the Deaf and provide equal access to all of our artists and audiences, to give them the positive and enriching theatrical experience they deserve. We are a cultural home for the Deaf community to see their own lives and experiences reflected on stage, and we prove that there is a place for Deaf actors, creators, and designers in the vibrant fabric of New York City’s theatre community.
Our productions vary in degrees of accessibility for our patrons, including language access in ASL and incorporating spoken English or projected subtitles for either language. In providing a variety of language access, we experiment with the level of access a patron might receive so that people of all abilities can understand the experiences of one another.
About the Production: TITUS reimagines Shakespeare’s original work as a whole in a new physical and visual world, needless of spoken English or ASL. A sharp talented cast of eight actors, four Deaf and four Hearing, use non-verbal elements such as Mime, Visual Gesture Communication and Visual Vernacular to tell the story. The unique manipulation of light, shadow, and projections presents all audience with a widely accessible experience of Shakespeare’s first tragedy, through a new visual language.
Artistic Director JW Guido talks about the unique and innovative qualities of his company's production of TITUS.
What attracted you to this project?
JW: As the Artistic Director, I’m searching for a new way to present a story onstage that gives a FULLY accessible experience for our audience, without the need of interpreters or voice work overlapping with American Sign Language (ASL). As Shakespeare’s work is heavily visual, NYDT chose to experiment with the classic play Titus Andronicus, our goal being to create a visual-experimental theatre work titled TITUS, helmed by Director Monique Holt. It was clear to me of this play’s thematic timely relevance, and for our team, essential to translate the play onstage in a new innovative way, challenging our audiences while providing access, and presenting a less frequently-produced Shakespeare play.
What was your favorite part of working on this production?
JW: Since this was our new, experimental work, it presented big challenges for us to explore and discover a new method of communication, without spoken English and ASL. It required a lot of teamwork. It was really amazing to see all of the cast and crew working together, in this new unique way, to make the production possible.
What was the most challenging part of working on this production?
JW: The whole concept of the production was entirely new. We heavily relied on non-verbal communication and projections/lighting. We were not able to bring all of the technology together until weeks before the opening night, so the cast/crew needed to work together throughout rehearsals to understand the story and how the show would be running. With design elements that included original video content, projection, and even shadow puppetry, this all had to come together quickly in tech!
What was the audiences' reaction to the work?
JW: I wanted audiences to understand how a story can be presented in any type of language, including non-verbal languages! Also, I want them to know that anyone, Deaf or Hearing, can create a story onstage without specifically mentioning or addressing our Deaf culture or common issues about Deaf people. No matter who they are or where they came from, everyone should able to create stories about anything, without changing audiences’ perspective but challenging audiences to see theatre in new ways.
What insight did you gain while working on this production?
JW: As the Artistic Director for NYDT for 5 years, this is our first time to get nominated for our work! This is also the first time NYDT has worked with both designers who are nominated!