Deaf theatre group presenting unique take on Snow White
A new theatre group is preparing for the debut of a unique stage production.
"Seeing Voices Montreal" provides a creative outlet for actors who are deaf, and the theatre group is hoping to raise awareness about the deaf community and build bridges.
Six of the actors in their upcoming version of "Snow White" are deaf.
Jack Volpe, director of the theatre group, is deaf and he faces the challenge of directing a mixed cast of actors: some who can hear and others who cannot.
"It's just finding a middle ground. And we've found that gestures are that initial middle ground to enter both worlds -- those who can hear and those who do not hear," Volpe said.
Volpe teaches American Sign Language at the MAB-Mackay centre and his students include Aselin Weng, who said she found inspiration in his class.
"I studied physical therapy at McGill, and we were starting to learn about people with disabilities and I said well isn't that interesting, so I decided to take it.
While taking the course, she came up with the idea for starting a theatre group, and did so with co-founder Josephine Torossian.
"She approached me with the idea of starting the theatre and I was like 'I don't know, I don't know the language that well, I don't know the culture that well,' but the idea was so awesome and we were both so motivated in learning the language so we were like, Let's try it and that's basically how it started," said Torossian.
For Riki Shimoda, being a part of this play has allowed him to open up in ways he hasn't before.
"I don't like my own voice sometimes, but with my hands I feel more expressive and I can exaggerate more, so I feel excited," Shimoda said.
Volpe hopes the play will be an eye-opener for the audience.
"Deaf actors and hearing actors have had to find a way to communicate and that's kind of profound really," said Volpe.
"I think that one of the offshoots will be when the audience returns to their lives after the production, they'll have a different view of how to approach a deaf person."