Jesse looks around seeking validation and a sense of belonging. Will he always fail? With both hands tucked under his body, he feels the world closing in. He can’t remember the last time he felt safe and accepted. Jesse can’t help but wonder, “Who am I?”
Jesse is a person seeking identity, language and community. The tension between oralism and sign language begins to manifest into signed opera in the search for authentic communication. Jesse: An ASL Opera is about his journey for validation, whether to surrender to conformity for the sake of society or to fight for the right to be: to be Deaf with a capital “D”.
Brief & Idea
Jesse: An ASL Opera for Inside Out Theatre was an Experimental Workshop. Inside Out Theatre, from Calgary, Alberta hosted the second phase of Jesse, a Deaf-led ASL Opera, which was under development with Finnish Sign Language Opera pioneers Dawn Jani Birley and Marianne Aro, two of the most prominent Deaf artists in the world.
The workshop was a work in progress showcasing how Canadian-American Sign Language (ASL) and opera intersect to tell a story, as performed by emerging artist Landon Krentz and acclaimed opera performer Heather Molloy. Jesse: An ASL Opera allowed the audience to experience the rhythmic expression of Canadian-ASL and opera. The performance offers an opportunity for signers and non-signers alike to view some of the newly created excerpts and the chance to meet the creative team.
Jesse: An ASL Opera sold out both nights! It was an enjoyable experience for me because I learned how intersectionality works between Deaf and hearing artists during a Deaf led workshop.
There were two Finland Sign Language interpreters, one American Sign Language interpreter and English Captioner, which I originally contracted to be before later shifting to a different role which is marketing.There were two actors: one Deaf and one hearing, but the show’s primary language was ASL. I was encouraged to create marketing materials for Jesse: An ASL Opera.
I quickly rose to the challenge and overcame all issues that occurred behind the scene. I created short previews each day as a count down and booked a professional photographer for the photo shoot.
My efforts were successful: sold-out shows both nights!