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TRIBES had its world premiere at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 2010 where it was nominated for an Oliver Award for Best Play. It premiered Off-Broadway in 2012, an equally acclaimed run that earned it six Lucille Lortel Award nominations, four Outer Critics Circle nominations, and two Drama League Award nominations. TRIBES had a subsequent run at the Center Theatre Group, and is currently set for another run at La Jolla Playhouse under returning Off-Broadway director, David Cromer.
SpeakEasy Credits: Clybourne Park (director). Fan for many years.
What is TRIBES about?
TRIBES is about a young Deaf man and his relationship to his family who have brought him up as if he were hearing. In the play he meets, Sylvia, a young woman raised by Deaf parents, who awakens him to the vast world of Deaf culture, all while she is questioning her own participation in that world. It’s a play about identity, about the invention of self. It asks how we can fit in with any particular group if we are all struggling to figure out who we are as individuals.
What attracted you to the project?
Over the last few years I have been working with the Deaf community. Starting when I directed Company One’s production of LOVE PERSON, I fell in love with ASL (American Sign Language) and Deaf Culture. As theatre artists we’re always looking at “what is the world of this play?” and with ASL, I have been able to submerge myself directly into that world. Also, the story of trying to figure out who you are is so universal. While I myself am between the quarter-life crisis and the mid-life crisis that the characters in this play are having, I can certainly identify with that struggle.
What are some of the challenges you face in bringing this show to the stage?
Directing in another language is always hard. And that’s what ASL is, it’s a completely different language from English. I’ll be working with interpreters to speak with my Deaf actor and I’ll have to not only be aware of what I want to say to my actor but also of what might be getting lost in the translation.
Why will SpeakEasy audiences love it?
I think they will see something they can identify with and laugh at…I love how much this play reminds me of my family and people in my theatre family. It’s very identifiable. It is also quite enlightening. They’ll get to see and understand a world they most likely have never considered before. If your child was born Deaf what would you do? They will also get to experience the beauty of ASL, a language of images. They will be moved and they will laugh…what more do you want from a night of theatre?