Tecumseh! is presented at the Sugarloaf Mountain Amphitheater outside of Chillicothe from June 5 through Aug. 29. The drama, now in its 37th season, tells the story of the Shawnee leader’s effort to defend his Ohio homelands during the late 1700s. Information is available online at tecumsehdrama.com.
“This offers an excellent opportunity for students to gain practical experience to help further prepare them for their careers,” said Abby White, assistant professor of Deaf Studies and Interpreting at the Chillicothe campus.
The students will work in tandem, with a two-person team signing for each act of the play. Students and two faculty members attended a June 9 performance to get a feel for the play and to discuss details such as placement of the students during the production.
“We need to find spots so that the students are visible but not obtrusive,” said Lorraine Rogers, an adjunct faculty member in the DSI program on the Chillicothe and Lancaster campuses. “While they need to provide access to the play, they are not performers themselves.”
To prepare for the production, the students are studying the script to memorize the lines they will interpret. Each student must become familiar with the lines of multiple characters and each will sign for three or four scenes. Signing for a theatrical production has other challenges that will require the DSI students to show some stage presence.
“The students need to have a little bit of ‘ham’ in them,” Rogers said. “Because this is a play, they need to do more than just interpret words. The students need to portray the whole picture, such as emotions, feelings and intentions. This type of situation calls for them to be more animated than in typical situations.”
Because of the authentic nature of the play, the students must also learn to understand American dialects from that time period, and then translate that language to ASL. Rogers and fellow DSI faculty member Becky Brooks will interpret the spoken Shawnee parts.
The participating students are thrilled at the opportunity.
“This is a great way to sharpen our skills and gain real-life experience,” said Carolyn Turpening a graduate of Pickerington North High School, who takes classes on both the Chillicothe and Lancaster campuses. “We are very excited about this opportunity. It is a rare chance to sign before a large deaf audience.”
“This type of experience is invaluable,” said Julie Parma, a Cleveland Westlake High School graduate. “This will probably be faster-paced than I imagine. Once the performance begins, you cannot hit the ‘pause’ button. This is learning to sign in real time.”
Other students involved in the project include Ali Kisker, Colleen Miller, Wynter Delaney, Chassidy Myers, Ashley Pyers and Kristen (Bangert) Knight.