Monday, October 31, 2005

To Hear Or Not To Hear Sign Language Shakespeare

SAN FRANCISCO (Wireless Flash - FlashNews) – To hear or not to hear. That is the question director Peter Novak hopes to answer this week.

Starting Thursday (Nov. 3), he’s directing a version of the William Shakespeare play Twelfth Night at the University of San Francisco that will be performed completely in American Sign Language.

It’s a sign of something new. Novak says Shakespeare’s plays are rarely done this way because American Sign Language cannot be read like other languages.

Cast members spent 16 months learning their lines by watching a DVD of the play.

But the performance won’t just fall on deaf ears: Translators will stand on the side of the stage to speak what is being signed.

In addition, Novak says the audience members who can hear will understand the play better because sign language uses the whole body to interpret the archaic Elizabethan English.

That means the bawdy jokes and puns in the play will be more apparent in gesture form.

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