This July, I'm taking part in my third Bay Area Playwrights Festival, an annual festival of new works presented by Playwrights Foundation in San Francisco.
I feel very lucky to be a part of "Sound," a fascinating new play by Queens-based playwright Don Nguyen. Two storylines run in tandem. One, set in 1885 in Martha's Vineyard, follows Alexander Graham Bell as he tries to invent a device to restore the hearing of the deaf. A contentious and frequently despised figure within the deaf community, Bell sought to eliminate deafness, which he considered a handicap that forced the deaf to live in two worlds when "they should be thriving in one." In the other storyline, a modern-day family deals with their 13-year-old daughter's determination to get a cochlear implant. The procedure could restore the sense of hearing she lost as a young child--but also threatens the bond she shares with her deaf father.
The cast includes Greg Anderson as Frisner, Cassidy Brown as Alexander Graham Bell, JW Guido as George, Michele Leavy as Barbara, and Diedre Tubb as Alison. I play Alexander Graham Bell's wife, Mabel Hubbard Bell. Cathleen Riddley and Brandon Kazen-Maddox do double-duty, playing multiple roles in the ensemble and serving as ASL interpreters. It has been eye-opening, inspiring, and fun to work with this mixed group of deaf and hearing actors! M. Graham Smith directs, with JAC Cook as ASL Director and Karen Altree Piemme as Dramaturg.
The reading is being presented unconventionally to create a unique dramatic experience for a mixed hearing and deaf audience. Performances are Sunday, July 20 at 12pm and Sunday, July 27 at 4pm at The Thick House in San Francisco. Tickets are available at the door or online here.