Hands communicate wildly as actors rush in and out of scenes,
their facial and body expressions bringing characters to life
without anyone uttering a word.
This is a performance by those who cannot hear, cannot speak,
but can animate a theatrical production. In the audience, other
actors vocalize the lines of the play so those who are able to hear
can follow along.
Twice a year, CenterLight Theatre (part of the International
Center on Deafness and the Arts in Northbrook) hosts productions
performed by deaf children. The theater just celebrated its summer
performance this month; its next show is set for November.
Programs incorporating music and theater are important to deaf
children and adults because it offers them an outlet for personal
expression, says Patricia Scherer, founder and director of ICODA.
Preliminary research shows that access to such programs can spur
kids in particular to advance in education and careers, she
Scherer founded ICODA in 1973 with about 10 students. Since
then, more than 20,000 people of all ages have received services
from the many facets of the organization, including CenterLight
Theatre, Traveling Hands Troupe, Story in Sign, Teacher Training
Program, ICODA Dance, Museum on Deafness, Early Intervention and
International Creative Arts Camp.
Scherer is raising funds to buy a building to renovate into a
facility fully equipped for the deaf. Plans call for a 500-seat
theater, a treatment and intervention lab dedicated to education
about the deaf and possible technological aids and helping deaf
children with behavioral conditions. It will also have training
centers with distance learning capabilities for teachers and
For more information about ICODA, the upcoming production
planned for November or to help ICODA raise funding, visit icodaarts.org.
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