Deaf West is Diversity
Deaf West was honored on Monday night as the Actor’s Equity Association honoree for the 2010 Ive Bethune Tri-Union Diversity Award show. The show is organized by the equal opportunities committees of Actors’ Equity Association (AEA), the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) and Screen Actors Guild (SAG). I am an AFTRA member and attended as a volunteer. Besides being a source of diversity, this organization, with 90+% of its support coming from the hearing community of Los Angeles, also provides assistance to the youth of Los Angeles through two outreach programs, ASL Story Time and Dramatic Gestures.
This program combines the literature goals of a child’s current classroom while providing a positive model of the potential of those who are deaf to those in the mainstream school system. It is interactive and does not use any kind of third party interpretive device or individual to relay a message of hope.
Dramatic Gestures combines American Sign Language with spoken word with theater to positively impact the lives of death and hard of hearing youth. The program combines professional performances with youth participation in the development of their own scenes. School performances are provided for the Deaf West mainstage productions, where age appropriate. Discovery guides that are age and production specific are also provided for in-class use.