Last night we shuffled into the Globe Theatre one last time to see the opening performance of Deafinitely Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in British Sign Language. As Midsummer is one of my all time favorite Shakespeare shows, I was excited to see what this production had in store.
With much of the original text removed the cast found the beauty of Shakespeare’s work in their movement. Their signing became a dance that flowed across the stage in the case of the fairies, and was staggered, exaggerated, and hilarious in the case of the lovers and the mechanicals. While there were moments where I struggled to understand exactly where in script we were, it was touching to see members of the deaf community that made up a large portion of the crowd, fully experience a piece of theatre in the way that we are used to. Yes cuts were made, characters were altered, and in many ways the plot was changed in ways that I did not expect, but this production is living proof that theatre transcends handicaps, and can be used to bring people who come from all kinds of different communities together to laugh and cry at the same moments.