A play about using sign language to communicate with the world and about the everyday life of deaf persons, staged by Wojciech Ziemilski in Warsaw’s Nowy Theatre. The premiere of One Gesture took place on 24th September, 2016.
To me, it is a show about ‘signing,’ the world of sign language, which is not the same as the world of French, German, or Polish. It functions differently, is based on different senses. The more I dived into it, the more it was becoming clear to me that it is a perfect dramatic medium: ‘signing,’ but also the life of deaf persons in the world of signing, world which goes beyond the language itself. It is also a method of experiencing the world, communicating with one another – says the director, who invited four actors with various levels of hearing impairment to tell their stories from the stage.
We learn something new. I reckon that not many hearing persons have had the opportunity to observe the “signing” people from this close. They say it’s inappropriate – well, here it is. The purpose of the show isn’t educational, however – we want to create a beautiful, important play.
As he emphasised, sign language gains an aesthetic value in theatre context, it in fact resembles dancing. – One can “sign” in many different ways. Every person does it differently. This is immediately noticeable. These differences are fascinating – Wojciech Ziemilski adds and poses a bold thesis: the deaf have it easier, as they naturally focus on their own message and look for audience, which is something those who can hear don’t do.
The show presents everyday matters and struggles of the hard of hearing, for instance during a doctor’s visit or at public administration offices. At one point in the show, the text appears: “The Community of the Deaf is not conflict-less. We want to share with you the problems and conflicts which are most worrisome to us.” As the director stated, during the show we learn what the life of deaf persons looks like, what problems they face.
But I need to stress that this play is not aimed at integration. It is not about telling poignant stories, especially that what they have to show goes beyond just the hardships. Everyone imagines that it is hard, but apart from that, it is also beautiful, wonderful, and completely different from the world of the hearing. – he said.
Marta Abramczyk, who stars in the performance, says:
We tell our private stories through this show. For instance, I say how, as a completely deaf person who until recently wore an ear implant, I am able to speak now. I tell how my mother worked with me – it is thanks to her that now I am able to speak comfortably and move between the worlds of the deaf and of the hearing. I also tell how I learned the sign language. These are the kinds of stories we tell: how hearing impairment affects our lives, how we’ve gone through that.
Apart from Marta Ambramczyk, the cast includes: Jolanta Sadłowska, Paweł Sosiński, and Adam Stoyanov. Directed by: Wojciech Ziemilski; scenography: Wojciech Pustoła; music: Aleksander Żurawski.
One Gesture premiered on 24th September, 2016 at Nowy Theatre in Warsaw. The project is supported by Culture.pl
source: PAP, ed. AL, transl. AM, October 2016