Two plays.

This weekend I saw two plays, Frost/Nixon at the Kennedy Center and Fences at Gallaudet’s Elstad Auditorium.

Frost/Nixon was a one-note play. It chronicled how David Frost, a lightweight talk-show host, got Nixon to confess to wrongdoing in a TV interview three years after he resigned. (Yes, this actually happened.) The play was an obvious fantasy of Bush someday doing the same and letting the country have some kind of catharsis and closure. I’m not holding my breath.

But seeing Fences, in American Sign Language — now that was an amazing experience. It followed the travails of a black family in the late 1950s as they struggled with racism, money, and infidelity. The actors were first-rate, and in ASL, the dialogue seemed filled with lightning. It had that extraordinary combination of motion and meaning. It was dazzling to watch. Now that I’ve seen it in ASL, I can’t help feeling that the play would seem tepid and one-dimensional in the original English. To talk only with your mouth!

I’m grateful to the director, Ethan Sinnott, and the lead actors, Rian Gayle, April Jackson, and Daniel Ilaire, for bringing us that gift. It made me feel privileged to have a life where I get to see such things.


  1. Hey Mike,

    When I was first learning sign, it didn’t take long to realize what a rich language it was and how one could do things with it that simply could not be done with spoken language.  I could see that people who didn’t know sign couldn’t possibly appreciate the usefulness of ASL for expressing human emotion and other nuances.  Glad you got to see this in the “Fences” production.
    Btw that’s a pretty funny hat you are wearing in the previous blog.  I admire your willingness to be photographed in it.  I need a “smiley” to put here but not high tech enough to know where to “get one.”Happy Thanksgiving.Gina

  2. Thanks for directing me here Michael. It is an honor to know I was involved in such a play that many people enjoyed and felt impacted by in some ways. “Fences” will be back in February for Black History Month.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

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