Department News (3-13-17)

Last Wednesday, Julia Ashworth was recognized with a faculty award and a Good Samaritan Grant at the University Accessibility Center (UAC) banquet. The award comes as a result of her direction of The Taste of Sunrise in winter 2016. The funding will come back to the department through the college. The play is the story of a young Deaf man named Tuc who narrates his coming of age autobiography and his struggles navigating a hearing world. Despite having no connection to the Deaf community or knowledge of ASL, Professor Ashworth was willing to undertake the challenge of not only directing a show with a majority of the lines in a different language; but she was fully committed to working with Deaf actors from the university in order to make sure that the story was told accurately and appropriately. Professor Ashworth made a point to cast Deaf students and alumni in the play, including the lead role of Tuc. Additionally, she drew on the knowledge and support of the Deaf and hard of hearing cast members, as well as outside community members in order to make the play completely accessible for both a hearing and Deaf audience. Additionally, she made an effort to use her cast members and student Dramaturge to reach out to the local Deaf community by not only inviting them to attend the show, but also to include many of them in the lobby display where many of them were able to tell their stories of joining the Deaf community and having access to American Sign Language. During the run of the show, Professor Ashworth hosted a conference during the run of the show that focused on inclusive theatre and attended a national theatre conference where she presented on incorporating shadow signers into productions as well as being inclusive of all races, genders, and abilities in the theatre process. As an added bonus, Ben Featherstone, who played the lead in The Taste of Sunrise with no prior acting experience, won the region 8 Irene Ryan audition and will be traveling to nationals in April.

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