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Signing Shakespeare in Stockholm

February 21, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 176

In the land of such famous Swedish dramatists as Bergman, Strindberg and Lars Norén, a new, pioneering course of study is underway.

Launched by the Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts in September, 2011, this daring initiative has taken form as a unique college degree found only in Sweden.

Young, talented deaf theater students can now get an acting degree that affirms and develops their special dramatic skills. Here they can become professionals at using sign language in the theater to create a new dramatic experience for both hearing and non-hearing communities.

Central to this new course of study is the theme of analyzing and understanding the texts of the hearing. Use of sign language in drama is still highly experimental, opening up many exciting possibilities for these young thespians.

The three-year program follows much of the curriculum for acting students who can hear. These subjects include: mask work, improvisation, dance and movement as well as theater performance studies. A large emphasis is placed on the cultural perspective of the deaf, integrating sign language throughout the coursework.

In addition, there are courses in sign language presentation and translation. Theatrical skills in storytelling, signing poetry and sign mime give students a chance to explore their non-hearing dramatic talents, and find new ways of creating drama without the spoken word.

Above all, they will be exploring ways to perform classic theater using sign language. So far, there is no established tradition as to how such famous playwrights as Strindberg or Shakespeare should be translated.

Transforming rich and lyrical vocabulary into sign language requires skill and imagination. But these undaunted students will get the chance to master this art; giving their audiences an extraordinary theatrical experience; very visual, very film-like.

The driving force behind this new and experimental field of study is a previous graduate of the Academy and professional actor, Lars Otterstedt.

According to Mr. Otterstedt, there is an acute need for a professional college curriculum for deaf actors. The goal is to produce a new generation of trained thespians that can bridge the gap between the hearing and non-hearing communities in theater, film and television.

Bridging this gap would surely please Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. Shylock pleaded eloquently for a better understanding of other cultures, specifically Jewish. These graduates will lessen our ignorance of what it is like to be deaf, and enrich our modern world of theater from the realm of the non-hearing.

Funding for this very promising program of high education in the performing arts was made possible by the Jacob Wallenberg Fund for Special Initiatives.

Lund, Sweden February 22, 2012

About the Author: Janet Boynton Runeson is a freelance web copywriter and director of Entrepreneurial Copy. An American living in Sweden, she specializes in cultural awareness.

© Janet Boynton Runesonhttp://www.lifeinsweden.net

Source: EzineArticles
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