Deaf West Theatre will partner with the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind (USDB) and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) Sunshine 2.0 for the 2022 National Deaf High School Theatre Festival (NDHSTF), an educational theatrical competition for young Deaf actors across the United States.
The 2nd National Deaf High School Theatre Festival will be a hybrid virtual and in-person festival. Both will take place March 10-13, with the in-person festival being held at the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind’s campus in Salt Lake City.
The NDHSTF gives young Deaf performers the ability to perform on a national stage, refine their skills through competition and feedback, use American Sign Language as their medium for acting, experience professional theatre in an accessible language, and socialize with like-minded Deaf peers.
Building on the work started by USDB and Sunshine 2.0 in 2020, where an entirely virtual festival was hosted with near one hundred Deaf students participating from across the country, Deaf West Theatre joins with them to create a unique experience that will bring together Deaf artists from across the country. The lineup includes instructors from Sunshine 2.0, a theatre company based at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
Participants will submit an entry in one or more categories that will be judged by Deaf West Theatre and Sunshine 2.0 performers and other Deaf professionals in the field of acting. The following day workshops will be provided by Deaf West Theatre and Sunshine 2.0, and other professionals in Deaf theatre to develop students’ performance skills. The event will include competition in the following categories; drama, music, dance, and Visual Vernacular.
The 2022 National Deaf High School Theatre Festival will feature students from over 10 schools across the country, including American School for the Deaf, Arkansas School for the Deaf, Berkmar High School, Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf, Montana School for the Deaf & Blind, Oklahoma School for the Deaf, Rocky Mountain Deaf School, School of the Arts at Central Gwinnett High School, Texas School for the Deaf, and Utah School for the Deaf and Blind.
Instructors and guest performers for the 2022 National Deaf High School Theatre Festival include Zain Ahmed (NTID Sunshine 2.0), Shiann Cook (NTID Sunshine 2.0), SAG Award nominee Daniel Durant (CODA, Spring Awakening), Tyler Fortson (NTID Sunshine 2.0), Harold Foxx (Stand-Up Comedian), Natasha Ofili (The Politician), Fred Beam (NTID Sunshine 2.0), Lateefah Patterson (NTID Sunshine 2.0), and David Kurs (Deaf West Theatre).
“For many years, our students from USDB had been competing in other theatre festivals for high school students,” said Michelle Tanner, Associate Superintendent of the Deaf at USDB. “The accessibility needs of our Deaf and Hard of Hearing students were never fully met, and in some instances completely negated. This led to overall lack-of-interest and outright protest from many of our students. After looking around and seeing that there were no other Deaf theatre competitions for high school students, we decided to launch our own annual National Deaf High School Theatre Festival.”
“Deaf West has always been committed to bridging the gap between the Deaf and hearing worlds, and when we found out the accessibility needs of students were being completely ignored, we knew we needed to help. Bringing this Festival from completely virtual to a virtual/in-person hybrid experience is no small undertaking, but is vital for our community. Deaf West’s expertise and history, combined with the resources that USDB and Sunshine 2.0 provide, will help ensure this Festival will become an annual tradition that showcases the true power of Deaf and Hard of Hearing thespians” said David Kurs, Artistic Director of Deaf West Theatre.
“We are excited to be partnering with Deaf West and USDB to present this necessary artistic platform for young adults,” said Fred Michael Beam, Coordinator at Sunshine 2.0. “Our 40+ year expertise is in bringing Deaf theatrical talent on the road, not just in America but across the world. This national festival will help elevate and amplify this young, emerging Deaf talent.”
For more information, to submit for consideration, and for complete Festival rules and guidelines, please visit DeafWest.org/Festival.