Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Originally Posted by Edward Freeman, Development Intern, December 20, 2007

Queens Boulevard (the musical) is a play that amalgamates a multitude cultures, assimilating their different customs, their different values, their different fashions and, of course, their different languages. At one moment in the show, a female actor uses sign language to communicate with her character’s ailing husband, and for that one moment, the hard of hearing audience members at the matinee this past Saturday focused on the action instead of the open caption screen. Finally the actors were speaking their language.

The open caption performance of Queens Boulevard (the musical) happened last Saturday. Those who have seen the show will know that the set includes several screens on which text that interprets foreign language is projected. Saturday’s performance, however, included one more screen (that looked actually like part of the set) that displayed text of the entire production for the hard of hearing. It functioned the way the closed caption subtitles on television do, giving the opportunity for everyone to understand the dialogue clearly.

Signature presents two open caption shows per season (the last one was during Iphigenia 2.0). Development works closely with the Marketing and Artistic Departments to plan the production, acting as a contact, liaison, and final reporter for David Chu (the man who captions the performance), while Marketing advertises the event and Artistic interprets a whole new script, tailored specifically for David and his clientele.

When I was a kid, I was enthralled with the closed captions on television. My eye still focuses on them whenever the function is turned on at a bar or the gym, even when I can hear the television clearly, causing me to lose the delivery of the action. Throughout the whole performance this past Saturday, the hard of hearing audience members had to focus on the open caption screen, so they could follow the story. But for that one moment in the show, while the rest of the audience focused its attention on the subtitles screen, the hard of hearing audience was able to capture the beauty and profundity of a moment in a hospital as acted by Marsha Stephanie Blake and Demosthenes Chrysan.

No comments: