‘Deafhood Monologues’ on April 5th at Atlas Performing Arts Center by Yvonne French

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Anyone who wants a rare chance to absorb a different language and culture should go to Deafhood Monologues on April 5th at Atlas Performing Arts Center.

All 14 actors are deaf. They will perform 22 monologues in American Sign Language (ASL) with English voice-overs. Two shows with ASL only will be held at Gallaudet University.

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The episodes in the play are about school, work, private life, important events and current living situations. They are expressed through poetry, movement, conversation and description.

Some of the themes of Deafhood Monologues are intolerance, discrimination and oppression.

“The most painful and dehumanizing experience in the deaf community is being forced not to sign,” said local producer Laurene Simms, a professor of education at Gallaudet. “It is false, phony. It happens when you’re young, 6 or 7.”

Created by Ella Mae Lentz and directed by Monique Holt, the play is based on the book Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood,  by Paddy Ladd, and was inspired by Eve Ensler’s off-Broadway hit Vagina Monologues, which started a movement called V-day to end violence toward women and girls.

Proceeds will help pay for a June 13-16 conference of the National Deaf People of Color organization to be held at Gallaudet, and will also benefit the Deafhood Foundation, a nonprofit community group in California. The show opened in 2010 at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont.

If you go to Deafhood Monologues in the District, don’t forget to wiggle your hands in the air instead of clapping, because that’s how you say, “Huzzah!”

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The voice-over performance of Deafhood Monologues will take place at 8 p.m. on April 5th at Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St., NE, in Washington, DC. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased here, or call (202) 399-7993 extension 2.

The ASL-only shows will take place at 3 and 7:30 p.m. on March 29, 2013 at the Andrew Foster Auditorium on the campus of Gallaudet University – 800 Florida Ave., NE, in Washington, DC. Tickets are $25 for the 3 p.m. show and $50 for the 7:30 p.m. encore performance. They can be purchased via e-mail at NDPC@gallaudet.edu.