Posts Tagged ‘Dominican School for the Deaf’

The Art of War“This is my first trip to South Africa…indeed my first time on this mighty African continent!  There were many questions, some nervous excitement, wondering what the culture in South Africa is like and what the Deaf culture is like. Being Asian and now being based in Scotland (Europe) I am fairly familiar with most things Asian and European – but in terms of South Africa, I know/knew nothing!!

Communication was going to be a key issue. I’m becoming fluent in Swedish, British, American and International Sign but before arriving, I wondered how communication might work here: what styles of communication, what language the students I’m working with would be using.  I do work visually – looking at working with the children on developing visual narratives – so was imagining that common/shared language would work for us all. Then I began to consider the age of the group…they are young!

photo3So, meeting the three different groups from Dominican School, I realised there was little to worry about! The children appear to use a mix of Sign (British, American and International) and they have great imagination, and quickly began to think visually so all was good. This is now the 2nd week of my three week residency in Cape Town, working with three different groups at Dominican Deaf School, in Cape Town. Our time together is fairly tight and it is most rewarding to see the groups of children so focussed and engaged for the short time that we have.

At the moment we have begun to look at some skills, exploring how we can communicate visually (without the use of sign language). Following this short period of exploration we will work on presenting a short scratch performance – more like a presentation of ideas explored through improvisation, that the children might like to develop in the future. 

I have been impressed with the eagerness of the children to explore – they have no inhibitions and are confident to share thoughts and ideas. And of course, having some fun.photo1

We did have a bit of a giggle today – communication! I was signing to the children how I thought they were very funny, using American sign. The children found this comment very amusing, more amusing than I thought it was. I was then told that the sign I used for “funny” was the sign that was used here for “ugly”! I’m pleased that the children understood that I didn’t mean to call them ugly…and we all had a giggle at our miscommunication.

It is early days…but I look forward to more of these…

There is something fascinating about working with this age group: young people are so open to exploring and their minds work quite differently from that of adults. I’ve been surprised by the group’s self-assuredness in their own physicality – they were so confident that they could fully explore all ideas in their imagination.  

The groups seem keen and like me are excited about our next workshop together – they ask “When??”.

Tuesday (1 November 2011), was the Arts and Culture Day showcase at the Dominican school for the Deaf in Wynberg. And it was amazing.  The MEC for Social Development, Albert Fritz, opened the day and it was just great to have him come and recognise the the day!

IMG00281-20111101-0851

Each year, our trainees, Marlon, Christo and Sinethemba are given the opportunity to teach drama to students at the school culminating in an end of year practical exam. Our trainees are being trained in non-verbal visual theatre, groomed to one day join FTH:K as professional members. Their task was to adapt simple children’s stories for stage and this turned out to be hugely entertaining for everyone who came!

Constantiaberg Bulletin 3 November 2011

This is now my 3rd year of being a part of the Dominican Arts and Culture Day, and I can say it is the best one yet. The students and trainees are just improving in leaps and bounds! And the Day itself is growing- the addition of the Arts award was just awesome. I always feel so blessed to witness the progress of the Dominican learners- they are truly inspirational! – Jayne Batzofin, FTH:K Theatre Maker

 

IMG-20111101-00431

Since last year, the trainees have come a long way and are starting to show strong signs of individuality, style and flair. With a small budget, the trainees purchased props and costume. In an adaptation of ‘Pugwash the Pirate’  all ten actors had their own swords were dressed beautifully in coloured pirate pants and tops. It’s these simple gestures that point to a much larger understanding of theatre-making.

What was awesome to see was the use of space and clear imagery used by all the trainee directors. It is so rewarding to see their training at work. Sitting on the side-lines, us arts managers couldn’t help but realise that the standard of our trainees work has increased dramatically, because of a range of improvements to our curriculum, but also quite importantly, being exposed to Gallaudet University in DC and working with artists at the Quest Visual Theatre Company.

Dominican Arts and Culture Day 2011 008

It’s absolutely amazing and feels so rewarding that our work, with just a handful of Deaf trainees, has been so successful. The potential of what we dreamed of is being realised, and is evident of how much more we can do for the Deaf and theatre. 

The ultimate dream, is to have our trainees compete against any hearing actor in a non-verbal piece. We have successfully managed this in our award-winning pieces QUACK! and Gumbo, and are now transferring these skills to the next generation.

The FTH:K team was thanked by the Dominican School for the Deaf, not just as a procedural event, but for raising the profile of Deaf theatre in the country and for the continuous work done at the school.

This post is for the team: the creative team, the trainees, the learners and teachers at the Dominican and the FTH:K arts managers. Bravo! 

September was Deaf-Awareness Month and last week, we had the crew from the Power Within come to check out our work at the Dominican. They’ll be doing follow up interviews, and our guys will have a chance to claim Andy Warhol’s prophecy, “In the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes.” (Not that we haven’t had it before!)

The Dominican School for the Deaf in Wynberg is where we run the Tell-Tale Signs Programme (What is the Tell Tale Signs Programme? ). Currently, our Level 3 trainees, Christo, Marlon and Sinethemba, are developing their directing skills by putting together short pieces for the school’s Arts and Culture day where all the pieces will showcase. We really do pride ourselves on this venture…

Want to check it out? Speak to Angela at the office, on 021 448 2838 for details.

Marlon and Sinethemba being filmed for 'Power Within'.

(The Power Within airs on Saturdays, SABC 3 at 11:30. Right after Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, (RIP) and right before Tina Fey in 30 Rock, keep you posted on the exact date).

And so Andy Warhol should know, 15 minutes, is only the beginning!