Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rave Review for "Love Person"

Scarlett Redmond and I met at South Boston Yoga. She was sporting a shirt from the Cape Cod Half Marathon. Race schwag makes for great conversation starters. Scarlett sent me a facebook invitation to her show, Love Person. When I read the synopsis of the play I was intrigued.

Love Person is a transcendent four-part love story told in Sanskrit, American Sign Language, English and email. Two couples are rocked to their cores when love unexpectedly transcends sexual orientation, physical attraction, and social structures. Free, a Deaf woman in a relationship with Maggie, accidentally strikes up a correspondence with Ram, a B.U. professor of Sanskrit and love-interest of Free’s sister Vic. The four find themselves inextricably bound by technology, translation, and the breakdown of language itself.

From the moment the spotlight shines on the four characters in Love Person, I felt as though I were no longer sitting in a theater. I became engaged as an observer and emotional participant in the drama that unfolded before my eyes. While there is a plot that weaves the lives of these four characters together, there is also a powerful message about language, communication and miscommunication. There are times when both hearing and hearing impaired individuals will not know through translation what is being communicated among the actors. Those are the moments when true communication happens; when we must tune in and rely on the nuances and subtleties of communication to help us understand each other.

The acting is impeccable and there are seamless transitions between scenes. Free, played by actress Sabrina Dennison who is deaf communicates with facial expressions that those of us who rely on our speech and hearing for communication do not use. Sabrina was recently interviewed on WBUR and you can read/hear the interview at http://radioboston.wbur.org/2012/06/13/love-person A video in ASL is being prepared by Boston University ASL interpreters Chris and Aimee Robinson of the interview.

Here is a powerful and poignant scene between Maggie and Free:

We all speak the same language when we speak from our heart whether it is through sign language, email, texts, American Sign Language, English, Sanskrit or any other language. The challenge for each and every one of us is breaking down the barriers that lead to miscommunication and blinds us to the beauty of a particular language believing that the way we communicate is the best or right way. There is an article in the play's program that talks about Deafhood and Deaf civil rights.

"The term 'Deafhood' was first coined in 1993 by Paddy Ladd, a scholar, author, activist and researcher of Deaf culture. Much like previous domestic civil rights movements that advocated for self determination and equality, the Deafhood movement does the same for deaf and hard of hearing. ... 'Deafhood acknowledges that ALL Deaf people embark on a journey that each Deaf person undertakes to discover their true identity and purpose here on the Earth as a Deaf person. This journey is for anybody who is what George Veditz {President of the National Association for the Deaf in the early 1900's} calls 'first and foremost, people of the eye.'"

Visit the website of the Deafhood Foundation to learn more.

One of my favorite scenes in the play (although there are many) is when Free translates the love poem from Sanskrit to ASL using the English translation as her guide. She does not get caught up in the words. Through ASL she is able to flawlessly and 'wordlessly' communicate the sentiment and essence of the beautiful love poem. This is in stark contrast to the opening scene of the play as Ram, the BU Sanskrit professor struggles with his translation of the poem from Sanskrit to English while Maggie struggles to translate the English into American Sign Language for Free and they both are apologizing for their inadequacies in being able to translate the poem. Vic defends Ram's translation which is delivered with a stilted awkwardness and is angry at Maggie for messing up the translation into ASL and wants them both to do it again so Free can experience Ram's "brilliant' translation. You will be enraptured and spellbound throughout the 2 hour play (including a 10 minute intermission). It is a transformational theatrical experience.

For an unforgettable afternoon or evening at the theater that will open your heart and your eyes see Love Person now through 6/23rd at BCA Plaza Theater. For more information about the show and to purchase your tickets, visit Company One's website.

From my heart to yours
With total love and deepest gratitude,

Additional resources:
Through Deaf Eyes
Gallaudet University
Love Person in Context
How To Say Love Person

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