It was recently announced that a revival production of Mark Medoff's Tony Award-winning play 'Children of a Lesser God' will be opening March 22, 2018, at Studio 54. As a supporter of theater and specifically #DeathTalent I am excited and overjoyed to read this news. I am already planning a trip from St. Louis with some ASL using friends.
The casting of deaf and hard of hearing performers leading Broadway roles are rare. 2015 brought the Deaf West 'Spring Awakening' revival. Before that, we have to look back to 'Big River', 'Tribes' and the original production of 'Children of a Lesser God'. These few and far between professional productions are admired and discussed in the Deaf World. Seeing someone use the same language gives pride, a sense of community, and shows everyone (deaf included) that "deaf can".
Representation matters and after recent controversy with Theater Cedar Rapids casting a hearing actor to play the part of Bill in 'tribes', a hard of hearing character who is struggling to navigate the two worlds, they were forced to cancel the production. That is just one of the many stories about hearing being cast for Deaf, but it goes deeper also. There we so few roles for actors who are Deaf. The more these are seen the more creative team could be inspired to include Deaf characters in future projects. This shines a light on the need for even more diversity in all areas of theatre.
The themes of isolation and feeling the need to change and be changed by loved ones are shown in a unique way because of the deep cultural connection. The plot of "Children of a Lesser God" follows the story of a teacher (James Leed, played by Joshua Jackson in this new production) at a residential deaf school. He quickly falls for a former student in current maid (Sara Norman, played by Lauren Ridloff). Both leads are making their Broadway Debut. Check out our full review of the transferring production from the Berkshire Theatre Group.
I hope the recent upswing in local productions and larger professional productions utilizing Deaf characters and culture means more spotlights for #DeafTalent. I know I'll be watching season announcements closely. Only time will tell, but for now, that is the Tru Biz.
Visit childrenofalessergodbroadway.com or follow their social media handle @lessergodbway for more ticket and show information.