Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Unique Collaboration with the Illinois School for the Deaf

For the recent performance of Nobody’s Perfect on the Class Acts series, Sangamon Auditorium was very pleased to partner with the Illinois School for the Deaf (ISD) in order to make the experience of the performance richer for both the ISD students as well as the hearing students in attendance.

On Sunday, March 21, MacMurray College in Jacksonville hosted the actors and technicians from the Kennedy Center’s production of Nobody’s Perfect at a cookies-and-punch reception with the community. Presentations from ISD staff touched on the highlights of understanding deaf culture as well as content from Marlee Matlin’s book, Nobody’s Perfect, and its adaptation to the musical play as presented by the Kennedy Center. The personnel from the Kennedy Center visited with the community members in attendance following the presentations.

On the morning of Monday, March 22, high school students from ISD arrived early to lead American Sign Language (ASL) learning activities at ten tables in the Sangamon Auditorium lobby. Third through seventh grade hearing students who attended the performance were treated to the opportunity to visit these tables and learn up to 100 ASL signs in the hour prior to the performance. About 250 students participated in this learning opportunity.

At 10 a.m. in Sangamon Auditorium, Nancy Kelly-Jones from ISD gave a presentation about deaf culture to all those in attendance for the performance, which included more than 300 students and staff from ISD as well as 550 hearing students from other local schools.

Following Ms. Kelly-Jones’ presentation, the audience was treated to the main event, the performance of Nobody’s Perfect, based on a children’s book by Academy Award® winner Marlee Matlin (Children of a Lesser God). The performance – simultaneously performed in spoken English and ASL – is centered around Megan, a fourth grade student busy planning her “positively purple” birthday party. Megan finds herself at odds with new student Alexis. To Megan, Alexis has it all: beauty, brains, and athletics—she’s practically perfect in every way. Though Megan tries to be nice to her, Alexis is anything but friendly, making Megan wonder, "Does she not like me because I'm deaf?" When they’re forced to collaborate on a science project, Megan discovers Alexis’s secret.

Following the performance, students from ISD were treated to a post-show question-and-answer session with the performers. Of special reciprocal appeal were the questions and answers exchanged between the students and Tami Lee Santimyer, the actress who plays Megan and who is deaf herself.

It was a great day for partnerships and learning! Many thanks to all the individuals from ISD and the Kennedy Center who helped make all these special opportunities possible. We have already received this great feedback from one of the teachers who was in attendance:

This was the BEST performance I have attended at Sangamon Auditorium and I have attended one every year for the past 12 years. The activity centers at the beginning were fabulous, and the characters were fabulous! They delivered an important message in a way that connected to ALL students!! Excellent performance!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you to UIS, the Kennedy Center, and Carly Shank for inviting us to be part of this amazing partnership. Our students enjoyed the play and meeting the actors and crew, as well as being able to represent our wonderful Illinois School for the Deaf in such a big way!

    Marybeth Lauderdale
    Superintendent, Illinois School for the Deaf