This production is made possible in part by a contribution from the Arts Council of Fairfax County, for which we are very grateful.
(October 20, 26, and 28 performances will have ASL interpreters.)
Children of a Lesser God is a very special drama, in that its script intertwines the use of spoken and signed language and specifically calls for the use of deaf or hard of hearing actors for three of its seven roles. It is also somewhat unique in that the play takes place in the mind of James, the male lead, and its plot unfolds seamlessly in the form of his recollections of events past. The set is bare, the "furniture" for the most part merely representational, and the props almost non-existent.
Successful staging of Children involves considerations not relevant to a play designed for hearing audiences only. For example, the male lead, a hearing actor, is required to learn his lines in two languages – spoken and ASL – and the female lead, a deaf actress, must sign virtually all of her lines while pretending an inability to lip-read or speak.
Movements of the actors on stage also involves special challenges: actors must be positioned to be able to see each other (and be seen by the audience) when speaking or signing to one another, and deaf and hard of hearing actors often must have visual as well as aural entrance cues. These requirements are of course routine in deaf theater, but are new to a community theater company such as ours.
In meeting these challenges, MCP has been blessed by the availability of the services of Cynthia Roberson, a McLean resident with professional roots deep in the deaf world. As a director with no prior experience in working with deaf or hard of hearing actors, I can honestly say that this production would not have been possible without her help and guidance. I have also appreciated the patience of our deaf and hard of hearing actors throughout the long rehearsal process; I have learned much from them. And finally my special thanks to the ever-reliable Terry Yates, our associate director and stage manager, for her always-valuable suggestions and counsel.