OU Lancaster Deaf Studies Students Interpret “The Mousetrap”

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One showing of the Ohio University Lancaster Theater’s The Mousetrap will be done in a different language–sign language. 

For the first time, students in the deaf studies program will be interpreting the play using American Sign Language.

"I think it’s really exciting," said Becky Brooks, interim coordinator of the deaf studies program. "I think it’s a great experience for the students, who are participating in something that is giving back to the community. It’s a wonderful experience."

The students will interpret one showing of the Agatha Christie murder mystery on Saturday, May 26 at 2 p.m. The ASL-interpreted show was the brainchild of theater director, A. Victor Jones. 

Jones did an internship where he worked with deaf performers and thought having the students interpret the play would make theater more accessible to the deaf community.

There is a lot of dialogue in the play and the interpreting students have to make sure they are conveying the message of each scene and character without trying to be an actor. Each student will be responsible for interpreting more than one character.

"We’re sitting in on the rehearsals for The Mousetrap, said Leigh-Ann Wheeler, a deaf studies and communications major. "Our job as interpreters is to match the characters, but not overshadow. We’re not performers."

"It is a talky, talky murder mystery," said Jones. "It’s going to be interesting to see them doing all of that."

"There is a thin line of balance," said Felicia Wagner, a deaf studies and communications major.

It’s not a challenge any of the interpreters plan to back away from. In fact, they are very excited to have the opportunity to interpret the show for a deaf audience and have put in many long hours of work.

"A play is very difficult," said Brooks. "They are not watching the play when interpreting. They really have to know their lines. They do a lot of preparation."

The Mousetrap runs from May 23 to May 26 at the Wagner Theater on the Ohio University Lancaster campus.  The deaf studies students will interpret the play on May 26 at 2 p.m.