November 2, 2015
By Michael Dale
While hearing audience members who aren't fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) can certainly appreciate the significance of Broadway's Deaf West Theatre Company revival of Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater's SPRING AWAKENING, there are naturally nuances of the production more apt to be noticed by Deaf audience members.
Originally opening on Broadway in December of 2006, and winning that season's Tony Award for Best Musical, SPRING AWAKENING, based on German Frank Wedekind's 1891 play, seriously deals with issues of adolescence in a repressed society. Director Michael Arden's production, which utilizes ASL and casts each role with both a Deaf and a hearing actor, adds the layer of discrimination against the Deaf community.
The Guardian reports on sending six New Yorkers to see SPRING AWAKENING, five of them Deaf: Graduate student Kaj Kraus, actor/business consultant/educator Maleni Chaitoo, nanny Max Graham-Putter, American Sign Language professor Carmen King and Artistic Director for New York Deaf Theatre James Guido. One, actor and ASL-English interpreter Craig Fogel, is hearing.