Skip to main content

Local Members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community Share Their Stories and Inspiring Messages in the Lobby Display

by Haley Flanders, dramaturg


Hello! Our show is up and running in the Margetts Black Box Theater on the first floor of the Harris Fine Arts Center on campus. Tickets are going fast! We will be having a post-show discussion on Thursday, March 24 around 9:50 pm in the theater, so even if you are not attending that performance, we encourage you to come and stay for that unique opportunity to ask questions to the cast and production team about the creation and performance of this fabulous show. EXTRA! EXTRA! Did you know that BYU's production of "The Taste of Sunrise" was in the local news? Click here to read an article about our show, featured in the Deseret News. The article is called. "BYU unites hearing, deaf communities in 'Taste of Sunrise'." It is a great interview with tons of insight from cast members, director Julia Ashworth, and stage manager Heather Richardson. This quote from the article encapsulates one of my own observations, which I believe is a major incentive to see this unique piece of theatre: The shadow signing featured in “The Taste of Sunrise” means that there are two actors for each part — one that speaks vocally and one that signs. “You really do get double the energy and double the emotions because you do have two people for each character,” said stage manager Heather Richardson. “Even if you don’t understand (sign language), it adds so much visually, emotionally. It’s very powerful.” [caption id="attachment_4553" align="alignright" width="202"]


Video montage of 13 members of the local Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.[/caption] And not only do you witness two characters in every role - one speaking and one signing. You also have two ways for learning about members of the local Deaf and Hard of Hearing community! In the lobby, you can watch them sign their stories in a video montage, AND read the translations of the signing on the back wall as you wait to enter the theater, as you hang out during intermission, or as you exit the theater at the end of the performance. [caption id="attachment_4554" align="aligncenter" width="342"]


Translations of the people in the video montage.[/caption] Below are the translations featured on the back wall of the lobby display, just in case you do not have time to read all of them when you attend the show. These people graciously volunteered to share their stories and inspiring messages, just like the character Tuc does throughout the play. It was Julia's hope that this production could highlight and bring a voice and attention to the often silent members of our community, and to let their messages of hope and identity further enhance the audience's experience as they follow Tuc on his journey toward an identity and a place to call home. Although Tuc is a fictional character, these people featured in the lobby display are real people in our own community, with powerful messages to share. They can truly empathize with Tuc and help to further emphasize the message of the play: to always focus on people's abilities rather than any abilities they may lack. I hope their stories through sign and text inspire you the way that have inspired me. (Note: Below is a  collection of photos I took during the final dress rehearsal last week. To see the faces of the community members, you'll have to come and see the video!)

Hi, my name is Riley.
This is my name sign.  I have become rooted in Deaf Culture because I love sign language.  I feel I can express myself well in sign.  Deaf Culture is awesome for me.  I socialize with a lot of Deaf people, and even though the Deaf Community is small, I feel connected to them.  I have learned a lot from them.  I also enjoy learning from hearing people and experiencing both the Deaf and hearing worlds together.  I enjoy both. Hi, my name is Jacob.  I am Deaf.  My life is an interesting story.  I was born Deaf.  I have two cochlear implants, but I’ve felt really drawn to being around the signing community and learning ASL.  It has been important in helping many people to be able to understand each other and have good relationships with friends and family, just like God’s community—we are all brothers and sisters.  Thanks.
My name is David.
  I am hard of hearing.   I grew up in a family with a father and older brother who are also hard of hearing.    I have always felt I could succeed in life by learning from their examples.  When I was 19, I discovered ASL and started learning it.  I loved it.  I was fascinated.  I felt I could really connect with others.  I had better access, ability to communicate and connection.  That’s why I really love ASL. Hi, my name is Jason.  This is my sign name.  I am hard of hearing and grew up oral (speaking and listening).  I always struggled to understand and catch things.  During my mission, I learned ASL.  I was amazed and so motivated to learn it because I could finally understand everything that was being said!  I was excited!  Now here at BYU, I continue to be excited to be involved with programs and helping other people learn ASL.  I enjoy so much being involved with the Deaf Community.  It’s really great to be able to understand what people are talking about.  I feel I can connect with them easier.   That’s why I love ASL: I can understand people.


My name is Terrence.  I was born Deaf in Santa Barbara, California.  I started learning sign at age 2.  Then in elementary school, I enjoyed being around Deaf friends.  I had best friends that I could understand because we signed with each other.  They had good language skills with facial expressions and body language.  I really enjoyed that.  Then at about age 5, my family moved to Utah.  I met new Deaf people.  I continued to be involved in the ASL Community and fascinated by ASL story telling.  I went to a Deaf Ed. Program where I had interpreters and a sign language classroom.   I really enjoyed that experience. How does this apply to my life now?  I have a Deaf identity.  I understand facial expressions, body language, Deaf Culture, and so many things.  My language has improved so that now I am fluent.  I can go to the Deaf Center for basketball or other Deaf activities, and because of all I learned growing up in the Deaf world, I can understand.  It continues to be really powerful to have Deaf Culture be a part of my life.  I’m really grateful I had sign language my entire life.

Hi, my name is Chad.
 I grew up Deaf in a hearing family.  When I became involved in the Deaf Community, I had access and the ability to communicate.   I was able to be an equal participant.  The Deaf Community has been a powerful instrument in helping me understand and be able to communicate.  The Deaf Community has not only helped me but so many other Deaf people.  The Deaf Community really is like a family. Hi, I’m Kristine.  I became Deaf at age 2.  What I learned from my family is it doesn’t matter that I’m Deaf.  I am who I am.  Many people have told me I can’t do things because I’m Deaf.  When they say that, I prove them wrong.  I can do whatever I want.  It doesn’t matter that I am Deaf.  It’s a hard life, yes, but I can do it.


Hi, my name is Ben.  I was born Deaf and grew up going to a hearing school, learning to speak and lip-read.  I didn’t sign until I was 18.  Growing up, I struggled to connect to the hearing community.  I really felt it wasn’t my identity and something was missing in my life.  When I was 18, I started meeting Deaf people and becoming involved in the Deaf Community and learning ASL.   I really felt a strong connection.  I knew that was my culture and language.  I am now 25 so I’ve been involved with the Deaf Community for 7 years.  I met my wife; I’ve been able to teach my kids sign language.  I have felt more connected to this Community.  I feel grateful for what ASL has given me in my life. Hi, my name is Nina.   I grew up Deaf.  When I was born Deaf, the doctor couldn’t figure out what had caused it.  Still to this day, we don’t know.  I attended different schools, but one school, JMS, was where I acquired sign language and found my identity.  It was powerful.  Then JMS “shut down” for a short time and merged with USDB.  The culture of that school was to tell me all the things I couldn’t do.   And I thought, “No, I can!”  I learned that at JMS.  I can do all these things!  That really was the beginning of a life-long fight to overcome obstacles.   Just like with getting my interpreting certification, that’s just one example of proving I can accomplish whatever I want.


Hi, my name is Ariana.  I was born and raised Deaf.  When my family found out I was Deaf, they started learning ASL, taking classes and different things as much as they could.  They really took advantage of opportunities to learn.  I grew up being able to communicate, interact, and joke around with my family.  I watched my Deaf friends struggle to communicate with their families.  They were so limited with speech and their family knowing minimal sign.  I was amazed by the comparison.  My family let me develop my Deaf identity.  I have been involved in Deaf Culture and Community my whole life with sports and different activities.  Being Deaf is a huge part of my identity.  I’m really proud of that.   I want to make a difference in the hearing community by being an example to hearing people that they can learn sign language and communicate with everyone.

My name is Marlene.
  I grew up attending the Deaf Institute in Idaho.  I love Deaf people.  I enjoyed being around Deaf friends and being involved in the Deaf Community.  I was always happy and proud to be Deaf growing up.  I attended a hearing college, and I felt a little bit lost with limited communication.   Then I attended Gallaudet University, and I loved being around people just like me.  I knew who I was when I was around Deaf people.  It felt normal to me.   When I was around Deaf people growing up, I felt like I wasn’t any different.   I was normal.  Really, I love my life. My name is Eric.  I grew up at the Kansas School for the Deaf.  I entered school in 1973 and continued there till graduation.  I loved the Institute because I loved being around Deaf people and learning from their examples all the things I could succeed at.  The attitude there was “DEAF CAN DO!”  I had equal access to communication.  There was a great sense of camaraderie, and we felt like brothers and sisters.  We were like a big family.  After I graduated, I attended Gallaudet for 2 years.  There I felt an even more powerful ideology that Deaf can succeed at anything.  I loved that and thrived.  That’s my story.
Hi, my name is Cami. 
I grew up Deaf.  My parents are Deaf.  There were 9 children in my family, all Deaf or hard of hearing.  I always thought I was normal and just went about my life.  I am hard of hearing so I can hear to use the phone.  I have been involved in both the hearing and Deaf worlds.  When I was about 30, I had to travel a lot for my job, giving presentations.  Two different things happened.  One time I was giving a presentation on captioned phones.  I was explaining that the person calling can listen but also see what the other person says by reading captions on a screen.  I mentioned that I can speak on the phone for myself.  As I was explaining this, one man said, “I want to hear you talk.”  I was thrown off by his comment.  I had been giving my presentation in sign so it felt very awkward to talk.  I felt like my world was turned upside-down.  Later that week in a meeting with my co-workers, they told me “You can just be direct and tell that person that you choose to sign.”  At that time, the significance didn’t really hit me.  I was just like, “Oh.”  Then later I was at a hotel because of traveling.  Always at a hotel, I communicate with the staff by writing back and forth first, because if I talk to them, they think they can just talk back to me, and I can’t understand.  So I wrote to communicate while checking in, and then I went up to my room.  I had some problems with my room so I called the front desk to tell them.  That same woman was so mad!  She said, “You forced me to write all those things!”  I was so flustered, and I started crying.  Just then my boss contacted me, and I was explaining everything that had happened.  My boss was hearing but had a Deaf son.   She said, “It’s your choice.   Just be direct and tell them “It’s my choice how I communicate.”  At that time, I realized that if I wanted to sign or if I wanted to talk, it was my choice, and it was OK.  That really impacted me.


Thanks and enjoy the show!

Related Articles


Behind the Scenes of Adapting Swan Lake

June 15, 2023 08:24 PM
With a show as universal as Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake Ballet, one would think that there wouldn’t be many unknowns to staging a production. However, director Ashley Parov had a vision to make this classic ballet more accessible to ballerinas of all ages. Instead of producing a typical 3-hour-long ballet, Ashley imagined an hour-long family-friendly piece. How then, do you fill in the gaps of the story?
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection= overrideCardHideByline= overrideCardHideDescription= overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=

The Jesus Christ of Godspell: Forums with BYU Religious Scholars

March 13, 2023 09:58 PM
Dramaturgs Darci Ramirez and Andrew Elijah Schindler invited scholars from the BYU Region Department to join us in discussions about the Jesus Christ of Godspell. Multiple similar forums will be held in connection with this production.
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection= overrideCardHideByline= overrideCardHideDescription= overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=

Godspell Graffiti

March 13, 2023 08:25 PM
I used to vandalize property now I evangelize properly.- Gospel Graffiti
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection= overrideCardHideByline= overrideCardHideDescription= overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=