Show Trailer

25 May

We open tomorrow night, and in celebration of this momentous occasion, I’d like to share with you the trailer for the production. I think it turned out pretty well — thanks go out to our video staff for making this a success!

Dance Time!

23 May

Bollywood dance lesson #1:


Dance lesson #2:

Not the Virgin Queen

19 May

Ram: Victoria wasn’t the virgin queen, that was Elizabeth.
Vic: No shit? 
Ram: No shit.
Vic: Asshole! Wait, weren’t they both virgins?
Ram: It is generally assumed that Victoria’s marriage was consummated.

I dunno, what do you think?

Prince Albert, Queen Victoria and their nine children. From left to right: Alice, Arthur (later Duke of Connaught), The Prince Consort (Albert), The Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), Leopold (later Duke of Albany, in front of the Prince of Wales), Louise, Queen Victoria with Beatrice, Alfred (later Duke of Edinburgh), The Princess Royal (Victoria) and Helena. May 26, 1857

The “Meet Cute”

16 May

FREE: Do you remember when we first met? We used to talk all the time, I mean non-stop! I loved our hands. I loved the way they moved together. Sexy.
FREE: That night under the streetlight?
MAGGIE: Our streetlight
FREE:  It was too dark to talk, so finally you just stopped under the streetlight and we were signing, and we just stood there talking and talking trying to finish our conversation, but it never ended, until finally it started snowing and we were too cold to stand there any longer.
MAGGIE: And then we ran all the way home

In a movie, they call it the Meet Cute — that is, the moment when the future romantic couple meets for the first time in a way that is considered adorable, entertaining, or amusing. Whole films are built around this idea, like When Harry Met Sally, which took the trope into the meta category, and included footage of real life long-married couples, talking about how they met:


New research now reveals that the way we tell the stories of how we met our Love People can be analyzed for predictors about whether those relationships will last. A recent NPR story delved into the discoveries:

“[Researcher in Relationship Science] John Gottman says how a couple meets really doesn’t matter. What matters, he says, is how the couple tells the story.

‘You can really tell when people have a very positive story of us,’ Gottman said. ‘They’re sitting close, they’re smiling [and] there’s a relish in telling the story.’

“On the other hand, Gottman says if the couple isn’t doing well in the relationship, the story can be very general, the memories negative and it can be like “pulling teeth” to get them to talk about how they met.

“So it might seem obvious that a happy couple would tell a more positive story and vice versa, but Mario Correa [host of NPR’s RelationShow] says that what Gottman does is to interview the couple over many years and listen to how the story evolves.

“‘Each time any of us tells a story, it changes a little bit,’ Correa says. ‘So he studies the same couples over many years … and he listens for these changes.’

“By listening to those changes, Correa says Gottman can predict fairly accurately where a relationship is headed.”

We’ll see how that works out for Free and Maggie.

Is It Poisonous?

9 May

VIC: Mom’s yelling ‘Frida! Frida! Did it bite you? Did it bite you?’ We get to the camp office, and they’ve got this chart on the wall…

FREE: …Snake chart, from the department of wildlife or something. …Rattlesnake, sure, there was a chart in the camping office.

VIC: Free notices things like charts in camping offices.

Is it poisonous? Consult these handy charts!

We Are Deaf

6 May

Deafhood Discussions (on Facebook) recently posted a wonderful video by Joel Barish (of that’s worth a few minutes of your time.

Tying a Sari

6 May

VIC: Yeah, your mom made me like a hospital bed, I feel like I’m going to unravel any minute, there’s this one measly little pin right here, and then a lot of tucking – I’m babbling. It looks ok?

A good overview of how to tie a sari:

Here’s another version, which is much closer to my own experience when my mother in law ties me into a sari:


And here’s some up-close detail work on the front pleats.  This video shows how to use a plastic pleater (most definitely *not* what Ram’s mother in law would use. She’d be old school) but the tool allows you to see how the pleats should look, up close.

Vishnu and Lakshmi

23 Apr
Vishnu and Lakshmi at the Lakshmana Temple, Khajuraho, Madya Pradesh, India
This travel blog photo’s source is TravelPod page: Temples of Khajuraho

Intro to Bollywood

18 Apr

RAM: I’m Indian, we have a passionate relationship with mindless entertainment! I’ll have to take you to a Bollywood film some time. Good guys, bad guys, romance, singing, the whole bit.

For the uninitiated, diving into Bollywood cinema can be a daunting task, with thousands upon thousands of movies to sift through.

This post from Mother Jones offers a good intro and a suggestion of five films to kick you off on your journey. Here’s a section from the incredibly popular Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (To the Brave Goes the Bride).

Mother Jones-er Sonja Sharp says:

Synopsis: Set half in the UK and half in Punjab, the romantic comedy tells the story of Raj (Shah Rukh Khan), a nogoodnik with a heart of gold who falls head over heels for Simran (Kajul) on a school trip across the Continent. When her father finds out he packs her off to Punjab to get hitched, but Raj can’t let go. What ensues has been played and replayed, danced and sung at every South Asian wedding since 1995.  Bonus: Khan and Kajul are the Richard Gere and Julia Roberts of India, and DDLJ is their Pretty Woman.

• I’m also enjoying — “the guie for clueless fans of Hindi films.”

• Here’s another good Top 5 list for beginners.

“Solitaire helps. That usually flushes the words out.”

18 Apr

An excerpt from Love Person

     TO: balaram
     FROM: jonesgirl
     too many words in my head, shoving, moving everything around

     TO: jonesgirl
     FROM: balaram
     What words?
     TO: balaram
     FROM: jonesgirl
     like bumps on a road, tripping, bumping, can’t relax.
     TO: jonesgirl
     FROM: balaram
     Words that rhyme, I get in a rut: old, fold, cold, sold, mold, told, drives me      crazy. 
     Solitaire helps. That usually flushes the words out.

I stumbled upon this applicable and lengthy post by Martha Rosenthal the other day at Talking Writing, a magazine for writers. An excerpt:

I should be writing. At least that’s what Hank thinks. Instead, I’m playing computer Solitaire. Hank’s right. I’ve got that novel in me and there are tons of stories, you don’t know. But, what he doesn’t understand is that playing Solitaire is my way of working up to the writing. I’m priming my brain. 


Sometimes I think creativity can only be released when you’re so goddamned bored there’s nothing else to do but invent some kind of fantasy world. That’s why I think I’m getting closer to writing a really powerful story. Solitaire is my brain’s way of staging a last-ditch effort at holding the creative juices in. It’s got to be the most boring thing a person can do. (Although, like I said, I’m discovering a person can experience a true sense of accomplishment from winning a Solitaire game.) But I’m still waiting for my creative dam to burst and all this angst, or whatever, to gush out and form itself into a prize-winning story.


He always starts it: “Solitaire again?”

“Solitaire helps loosen me up.”

“How tight can you be?”

“You’d be surprised how tight my brain is. I have a very tight brain, and it has to be loosened up very gradually.”

Celebs Singing in Sign

18 Apr

You’ve probably seen this running around the interwebs this past week, but it’s worth sharing here.

Deafness, Theatre, Media

10 Apr

Nina Raine’s play Tribes is currently running off Broadway and is scheduled to play until September, at least.

A summary (courtesy of The Royal Court):

Billy’s fiercely intelligent and proudly unconventional family are their own tiny empire, with their own private language, jokes and rules. You can be as rude as you like, as possessive as you like, as critical as you like. Arguments are an expression of love. After all, you’d do anything for each other – wouldn’t you? But Billy, who is deaf, is one of the few who actually listens. Meeting Sylvia makes him finally want to be heard; can he get a word in edgeways? Nina Raine’s second play is a fascinating dissection of belonging, family and the limitations of communication.

The New York Times ran an article today about the deaf actor, Russell Harvard, who appears in this play.

An excerpt:

Like his character Billy, the 30-year-old actor is himself partially deaf. And while, unlike Billy, he grew up in a deaf family, the early rehearsals for “Tribes” gave him a crash course in the isolation that Billy often feels among his cacophonous relatives. The producers had hired a sign-language interpreter to help ease communication among Mr. Harvard and the other cast members and the director, David Cromer, but in the rehearsal room, where many people were often talking at once, Mr. Harvard said he sometimes felt lost. “I couldn’t pick up on a lot of the overlapping conversation going on,” Mr. Harvard said in an interview late last month, adding, “I was like, ‘I’m Billy — right there, right now.’ It was funny, and then frustrating.” (Mr. Harvard wears a hearing aid and conducted the interview without an interpreter, occasionally leaning forward to ask that something be repeated.) […]  When Billy brings home a girlfriend whose parents are deaf, and who is teaching him sign language, his father challenges her, suggesting that sign language creates a cultural and linguistic ghetto. (Surprisingly, she agrees.) But, for regular theatergoers, it may be hard to watch Mr. Harvard’s performance in “Tribes” without becoming more conscious of another, little-noted form of exclusion — namely, how rarely deaf actors, and actors with other disabilities, appear on New York stages.*

(* = boldface emphasis mine)

A few things strike me about this — I wonder about what else was done, beyond hiring an interpreter, to make the rehearsal process a deaf space, literally and metaphorically. I also notice the phrasing the NYT chooses there: “deaf actors, and actors with other disabilities” — in direct contradiction to the portions of the Deaf community that do not see deafness as disability, but rather identity.

The article continues:

Only two Broadway productions have featured deaf actors in recent decades: “Children of a Lesser God,” a 1980 drama by Mark Medoff set in a deaf school; and “Big River,” a 2003 adaptation by Deaf West Theater of a musical based on “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” that used both deaf and hearing actors. Producers, meanwhile, sometimes balk at casting deaf actors. In the past few years two productions — a New York Theater Workshop one of “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter,” adapted from the novel by Carson McCullers, and the Broadway production of “The Miracle Worker” — have angered some deaf people because the productions cast hearing actors in deaf roles.

This article, in coming fast upon the heels of a recent piece on NPR that aimed to talk about the impact of cochlear implants on deaf schools — but entirely left out the voice of the Deaf community, or any talk of deafhood as an identity — I’m becoming hyper aware of the two-dimensional ways deafness is sometimes understood in the mainstream media. (Am I over-sensitive?)

On another note, there are some nice videos of Tribes available. Here’s one from the NYT:


And here’s an interview with Russell Harvard from CBS2 in New York:


And one from The Royal Court:


Sanskrit is Like Meditation

10 Apr

I stumbled across this fun tidbit. According to research from the ERG/psychophysiology lab at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, the physiological effects of reading Sanskrit are similar to those experienced during Transcendental Meditation, regardless of whether the test subject could understand the Sanskrit text or not.

An excerpt from a blog post summarizing the results:

Dr. Travis asked his test subjects to read passages from the Bhagavad-Gita in Sanskrit and in modern foreign languages (Spanish, French, or German). In each case they could pronounce the sounds but did not know the meaning. He measured brain wave patterns (ERG), heart and breath rate, and galvanic skin resistance during two reading sessions and during a 15-minute session of the Transcendental Meditation technique.
He found that while they read Sanskrit their physiology was similar to those measured during the Transcendental Meditation technique, but significantly different from reading a modern language.

Their skin resistance steadily increased during reading Sanskrit and during practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique (showing greater stability in their physiology) but remained the same during the reading of a modern language.

[…] In short, while practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique locates pure consciousness, leading to the state of Transcendental Consciousness, reading Sanskrit integrates inner silence with outer activity, helping to cultivate enlightenment.


Signing Poetically

9 Apr

In rehearsal this evening, we were unpacking what we mean when we speak of being poetic in English versus in ASL.  One monologue in particular, written in English, but delivered in ASL, seems to be the closest to that the character Free gets to communicating full tilt in a poetical fashion. Sabrina (who plays the deaf character Free), mentioned this scene, below, from the movie Children of a Lesser God as an example of the intersection of emotion/poetry/ASL/English.

“Hindus Were a Very Sexual People…”

9 Apr

From an ancient Prakit (working class Sanskrit) poem…

   Some will always be
   Let them
   And some will
   Blame us
   Let them
   Alright you’re having
   your period
   come and lie beside me
   I can’t sleep without you

“RAM: Hindus were a very sexual people, and so often the eastern people are seen as uptight and puritanical when in fact it is the Americans who are puritanical.”

In rehearsal this evening, we got into some of the background of the Kama Sutra. May the following help illuminate the relationship between Sanskrit and sexuality…


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