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Theatre of the Deaf presents THE KING
October 19, 2016 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm EDTBy Donation
The National Theatre of the Deaf will be holding a preview of the program that will travel down to Gallaudet University as part of their month long celebration of Visual Shakespeare. Gallaudet University is calling it “Seeing Shakespeare.”
Gallaudet University has been chosen as the D.C. host sit for the national traveling exhibition First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare. This exhibit, sponsored by the Folger Shakespeare Library, is traveling to all 50 states, D. C., and Puerto Rico in 2016, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
Gallaudet University has asked the National Theatre of the Deaf to perform an excerpt followed by a Question and Answer Session of The King which is an original adaptation based on Shakespeare’s King Lear. Patrick Graybill, an original member for the National Theatre of the Deaf acting company, will perform this adaptation of King Lear as a one-man show. The King script was created by another early member of the NTD acting company, John Basinger.
Patrick Graybill, revered as a grandfather of ASL poetry, was born in Kansas just before World War II began. He is one of seven children; five of them, including him, were born Deaf. In 1958, he graduated from the Kansas School for the Deaf, where a eloquent Deaf storyteller inspired him seriously about becoming like her. There, too, he also saw his older sister in a school production of Tom Sawyer, which planted in his head the desire to be an actor. He graduated from Gallaudet College with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1963 and a master’s degree in education in 1964. He then had a position of an instructor at the Kendall School for the Deaf for three years. He eventually decided to study to be a Roman Catholic priest at Catholic University for two years without interpreting services. It was a struggle that motivated him to accept an invitation to be a member of the newly established National Theatre of the Deaf. Consequently he had a wonderful decade of acting professionally and operating its summer school for aspiring actors for a few years. He retired in 2004 as a performing arts and literature professor for twenty-three years at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Besides, he is a senior permanent deacon in the Roman Catholic diocese of Rochester. He was being conferred the degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, Honorius Causa, from St. Thomas University, Miami Gardens, Florida, on May 7, 2005. His avocations are acting, storytelling, translating texts from English into American Sign Language, and creating original poems in ASL.
John Basinger joined the celebrated Tony Award winning National Theatre of the Deaf in 1968, performing with the group as a musician and actor in modest as well as prestigious venues across the US and beyond—including several runs on Broadway, theater festivals in Europe, Israel and more. He has been a board member of the organization for the past ten years and this year is proud to be directing their production of The King, a one-character play he adapted from William Shakespeare’s King Lear. As well as playing a featured role in Paramount Picture’s Children of a Lesser God he has also taught theater and sign language at Three Rivers Community College, been a Mellon Fellow in Theater at Yale, performed in various regional theaters across the country, written plays, slammed poetry and told stories at festivals at home and abroad. In 1992 he began memorizing and performing John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost. His 2001 3-day marathon recital of that work is available as a boxed set of DVDs. Since 2011 he has been performing The King at schools. colleges and theaters around the country.
More about the program, The King:
THE KING is a play based upon Shakespeare’s King Lear, but focuses on Lear alone. In it only one character is seen on stage, a drifter, played by Patrick Graybill, who has hit upon Lear’s story as a way to express himself. All the other figures are represented as phantoms or objects that the drifter happens across. Though the drifter remains a mystery, Lear’s story is presented directly, and through the magic of theater, these two tormented men, Lear and the Drifter, seem to become one.
50 years ago, the NTD began presenting the theatrical power of Sign Language (including Shakespeare) to people on every continent on earth, this power is again on display in The King. Under the theme, Visualizing Shakespeare, Patrick Graybill shows how the imagery in Shakespeare’s words become flesh. For example we can read Lear saying the words “The barbarous Scythian, or he who makes his generations messes to gorge his appetite…” But if we then look up on stage, we see exactly the action Shakespeare meant to convey: a monster tearing his children apart and forcing the bloody pieces down his throat. That’s just one opportunity of many the text offers signers interacting with the power and artistry of Shakespeare’s words. The National Theatre of the Deaf is the longest existing touring theatre company in the United States having performed in all 50 states and on all 7 continents.
Visit The National Theatre of the Deaf’s website.