Senior Theatre Project Includes First-Time Sign Language

The deaf and hearing worlds are just two of the worlds that will collide at 7 p.m. this Saturday in Alford Auditorium as part of Charissa Curby’s senior theatre project, “A World of Difference.” A series of three one-act plays, the production ends with a monologue in which Curby will incorporate sign language into her performance as the mother of a deaf child.

“To the best of my knowledge, we have never had an STP (senior theater project) that’s been, or even had a portion of it, signed for the deaf,” said Matthew Moore, the faculty advisor for Curby’s project.

Roger Gelwicks, a senior who plays the young man in the first act, said the usage of sign language adds another dimension to the show.

“It’s very interesting to see (the monologue) come to life on stage while she’s talking through it,” Gelwicks said.

The play is about the differences in perspectives, experiences and communication that individuals encounter in their world. Each act explores how people interact with each other, Curby said. For example, the second act, titled “The Stronger,” portrays how two people with differing perspectives respond in a situation where they cannot avoid certain consequences.

Savanna Harlow, a sophomore theatre major, plays the part of the waitress in the first act. Her character is part of the exchange between a young man and a girl, played by Gelwicks and Courtney Raymond respectively, who are members of different social classes, causing a collision of social spheres.

Gelwicks said his character is different than others he has played in productions

“This is more of a role where I’ve actually had to be outright flirtatious,” he said, chuckling. “I’ve never done that in a show before.”

Harlow said she believes the show conveys that people are not always who they are perceived to be.

“Everyone’s world is different, and you don’t have to really be ashamed of who you are,” she said. “There’s things everyone would like to hide about their life.”

Curby said she incorporated sign language into her theatre project because she trained as a sign language interpreter before coming to Cedarville to pursue theatre.

“I really would love to interpret for theatre because that’s kind of the fusion of my two loves,” she said. “It’s kind of the best fit of both of those things for me.”

Although not everyone understands sign language, Moore said everyone can relate to the show.

“All day long we come into people who are different from ourselves – different experiences and beliefs and that kind of thing,” he said. “Worlds are constantly colliding together, so it’s a part of our life on a daily basis.”

Curby said “A World of Difference” has taught her that people change each other.

“We all impact each other, whether we realize it or not,” she said. “No interaction happens without somebody being changed, at least temporarily.”

“There’s something in (the show) for everyone,” Harlow said.

Anna Dembowski is a sophomore journalism major and an arts & entertainment writer for Cedars. She likes nearly anything that is the color purple and enjoys spelling the word “agathokakological.”

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