Roundabout works with the organization Hands On which produces a sign interpreted subscription series for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences. Tom Humphries, an attendee at one of the sign interpreted performances of Cabaret recently shared his personal response with us:
I had the privilege of attending a recent performance of Cabaret starring Alan Cumming as the Emcee interpreted in American Sign Language. Both the musical and the interpreting were stunning productions. Alan Cumming’s signing and gesturing of the opening lines of the musical were a surprise to those of us in the audience who are deaf. Whether he knows it or not, he paid homage to the many deaf people who were mistreated or killed in the years leading up to and during World War II at the hands of the Nazis in their purification madness. This personalized for me the sense of desperation, moral abandon, and defiance of the Cabaret.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Alan Cumming and the people responsible for the excellent interpreting performance. The interpreters are well known to me and I have seen them in excellent performances before. But this was special. Cabaret is a challenge. How do you interpret the dripping sarcasm of the Emcee? And the vulgar language? And the quirky songs? They did it in a way that rivets our attention from beginning to end. Congratulations to Roundabout for providing interpreting befitting a Broadway production. I understand the hours and hours that went into preparation to interpret the musical, and the experience it takes to achieve this level of interpreting performance. The interpreting was undoubtedly made better by a deaf coach who helped with translating lines and vocabulary selection.
An added genius of this interpreted performance was the theatre’s decision to build a small raised platform for the interpreters so that the deaf people in the audience could take in both the interpreters and the action on the stage. Many other theaters would not have been so accommodating. It made a world of difference in our enjoyment of the musical and seemed to bother no one else in the theatre. Again ironically, the delusion of fun and pleasure of the Cabaret, was heightened for me by the knowledge that this was a rare and unique evening of interpreted theatre.
Please call Hands-On at 212.740.3087 (voice)—TTY callers use relay 711—to get more information about how to enjoy this special series for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. The Sign Interpreted Series is available only at the American Airlines Theatre, Stephen Sondheim Theatre and Studio 54. More information and dates.
2013-2014 Season, Audience Reactions, Cabaret