Sign language theatre: expression, language, and transformation

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Title: Sign language theatre: expression, language, and transformation
Author: Weir, Aaron; Kelstone, Aaron
Abstract: The expansion of potential meaning for a dramatic text should be possible when two languages are performed simultaneously. Sign Language Theatre, through simultaneous use of American Sign Language (ASL) and spoken English, offers an opportunity to determine if two languages can interact effectively to enhance meaning. If the interaction is successful for both languages, then it should be self-evident during performance. Videocassette recordings of Shakespeare performances produced by Sign Language Theatre were observed and specific segments analyzed to determine if this was true. It was discovered that there are evident strengths and weaknesses that exist and in turn must be acknowledged before meaning achieves a high degree of clarity. Sign Language Theatre has not effectively directed its attention to techniques that support enhanced meaning. Review of scripts, prompt books and internal memos indicated that minimal efforts were made to develop techniques supporting the use of two languages in performance application of post-colonial theory also offered explanations as to why these social and political events have prevented the full artistic development of Sign Language Theatre over the past thirty-five years. Close analysis also revealed that the translation process requires more study and development before Sign Language Theatre can develop as an art form. The combination of close analysis of the video segments and the translation process led to the recognition of possible steps towards enhanced meaning in performance and identified potential areas of focus essential for the development of Sign Language Theatre.
Description: Submitted in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree MASTER OF ARTS OF ENGLISH at the CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY, August, 2001.
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Date: 2006-09-01

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