Laurie Achin, a Northeastern University professor, never let herself stop just because she can’t hear anyone the way people do. She is deaf, and therefore, is not at all able to hear any of the music, let alone the lyrics or even dialogues. However, being a Sign Language professor, she had someone interpret a musical performance for the first time in her life – and it was – her words, not mine – amazing.
“It was amazing to finally be able to understand the opera,” said Achin. “The depth of characters, the pace of dialogue, the power of the music—I was so moved.”
If not for the interpreter, she would have had to understand and analyse the actor’s expressions as well as read their lips, thus probably making her miss the main storyline. Achin has now decided to partner with NUStage to make their later productions more ‘deaf-friendly’. As a result, ‘Cabaret’ is now going to be will be signed as well. “Access is about the opportunity,” she said. “It’s like if there were no ramps for people in wheelchairs, then they are completely dismissed from seeing the production. Deaf people need the same opportunities so they can enjoy the arts, too.”
Cabaret, written by Joe Masteroff, tells us the story of a shady club by the name Kit Kat Klub situated in Berlin of 1931. If you don’t remember this, you will surely remember Liza Minelli, the protagonist, winning an Academy Award for Best Actress for her part in the musical’s screen adaptation. Benjamin Lebofsky, a student of the university, will be directing this NUStage production. Lebofsky seems very excited to be partnering with Achin for this one-of-a-kind production.
“I’ve always been a proponent of making theatre accessible to as many people as possible,” Lebofsky said. “So, this is a step in that direction.”