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The Canadian premiere of this witty, daring, and jarringly emotional play that was the "Year's Best" in New York in 2012

Tribes
 
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DATES
Feb 2 - Mar 2, 2014
THEATRE
Berkeley Street Theatre
RUN TIME
2 hours and 15 minutes with an intermission
BY
Nina Raine
DIRECTED BY
Daryl Cloran
CIBC PROUD SPONSOR:
13.14 Berkeley Season


 
Overview
The Story
The Cast
Director interview
Photos
Extras

A Theatrefront Production produced in association with Canadian Stage and Theatre Aquarius. A Canadian premiere.

Billy is deaf but his unconventional family has tried to raise him as part of the hearing world. It's not until he meets Sylvia, a young woman who is becoming deaf herself, that he finally discovers what it means to be heard. Winner of the 2012 Drama Desk and New York Theatre Critics Circle awards, Tribes is an intelligent, provocative, and jarringly emotional play that gets its Canadian premiere at Canadian Stage.

“witty, gutsy and involving”
- The Globe and  Mail


Tribes - ASL Trailer

Billy is deaf but his unconventional family has tried to raise him as part of the hearing world. It's not until he meets Sylvia, a young woman who is becoming deaf herself, that he finally discovers what it means to be heard. Winner of the 2012 Drama Desk and New York Theatre Critics Circle awards, Tribes is an intelligent, provocative, and jarringly emotional play that gets its Canadian premiere at Canadian Stage.

Billy - Stephen Drabicki
Ruth - Patricia Fagan
Sylvia - Holly Lewis
Beth - Nancy Palk
Daniel - Dylan Trowbridge
Christopher - Joseph Ziegler

Interview with Director Daryl Cloran


Billy is deaf. He was raised in a hearing family and never learns to sign until he meets and falls in love with a young woman named Sylvia, who is from a deaf family and is losing her hearing. Sylvia knows Sign language, which she introduces to Billy as the play unfolds.

Directing in an unfamiliar language poses many challenges. Directing in American Sign Language is even more complicated for Tribes Director Daryl Cloran. A recipient of the Canada Council's John Hirsch Prize for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Director, the Toronto Theatre Emerging Artist Award, and a Robert Merritt Award for Outstanding Director, Cloran spent months working with the cast and Sign language experts to ensure the play's spoken and signed parts were accessible for all audience members.
"There are a few scenes that are played out entirely in Sign language, which will be translated with surtitles for the audience," Cloran explains. "Certain scenes between Billy and Sylvia end up being a combination of spoken word and sign and some mouthed phrases."

Elizabeth Morris, the production's Sign Language Coach and Deaf Culture Consultant, spent weeks with Cloran, Stephen Drabicki (Billy) and Holly Lewis (Sylvia), going through each line and figuring out their translation in American Sign Language.

"It's exciting to be immersed in another language" says Cloran, whose multilingual productions in South Africa, Bosnia and at Sweden's National Theatre for the Deaf make the use of a second/new/foreign language in this play familiar territory. "I'm always so proud to see actors from different cultures performing each other's languages. It's amazing to watch."

Cloran saw this evolution when working with Lewis, who wasn't initially familiar with Sign language prior to her involvement with the play.

"It's great watching her signing on stage; not just signing the words but expressing the character's emotion. Holly started by learning the signs for her specific lines, but because we found that a lot of her role is acting as the translator for Billy, she ends up communicating to the audience what his signs mean – a role she's now able to do without much help from Elizabeth."

Even for Drabicki, who is fluent in American Sign Language, Cloran likens Morris' role to the equivalent of having a vocal coach.

"Because there are many different ways to translate each line, the two of them worked through the play, going over his ideas of how a particular line would be interpreted to, ultimately, find a way to make the sign clearer for the audience."

When describing some of the challenges of a production such as Tribes, Cloran recalls a moment in the script when the playwright says "Billy and Sylvia argue with each other in sign" but doesn't actually say what they say.

"We had to examine where we were in the play and suggest what we thought the argument was about. We then had to write new dialog and have Elizabeth provide the interpretation."

Another challenge was releasing his directorial control to Morris and the cast. Not being fluent in American Sign Language, there were times when Cloran would have to pass off his duties to Penny Shincariol, the production's Interpreter.

Shincariol's duties includeinterpreting the play for Deaf audience members for two performances on Friday, February 7 at 8pm and Sunday, February 9 at 2pm. "It is really important to all of us that we make the show as accessible as possible for the Deaf community." Cloran says. "When I hired Elizabeth to be our sign language coach, the first thing she said was 'You have to do an interpreted performance.' She wanted to make sure that the Deaf could come, because if we didn't, only a third of the show would be accessible. If we didn't have an interpreter, it wouldn't be accessible."

Tribes opens February 2 at the Berkeley Street Theatre.
Patricia Fagan and Nancy Palk in Tribes. Photo by David Hou. Stephen Drabicki and Dylan Trowbridge in Tribes. Photo by David Hou. Stephen Drabicki and Holly Lewis in Tribes. Photo by David Hou. Stephen Drabicki and Dylan Trowbridge in Tribes. Photo by David Hou. Dylan Trowbridge and Patricia Fagan in Tribes. Photo by David Hou. The Company in Tribes. Photo by David Hou. The Company in Tribes. Photo by David Hou. The Company in Tribes. Photo by David Hou. Joseph Ziegler and Nancy Palk in Tribes. Photo by David Hou. Joseph Ziegler, Holly Lewis and Stephen Drabicki in Tribes. Photo by David Hou. Stephen Drabicki, Dylan Trowbridge and Joseph Ziegler in Tribes. Photo by David Hou. Stephen Drabicki and Dylan Trowbridge in Tribes. Photo by David Hou. Holly Lewis and Stephen Drabicki in Tribes. Photo by David Hou.

Reviews and awards

  • The Globe and Mail: "...leaves you with your eyes and ears wide open, having acquired a fresh appreciation of both senses.”
  • New York Magazine: "#1 New Play of the Year"
  • The New Yorker (Broardway production): "Extraordinary"
  • New York Post (Broadway production): "Dazzling"
  • The Independent: "[A] fiercely intelligent, caustically funny and emotionally wrenching piece about communication, belonging, and identity."
  • The Guardian: "It is a lively, provocative piece that offers precious insights."
  • 2012 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play
  • 2012 New York Theatre Critics Circle Award
  • 2012 Off-Broadway Alliance Award – Best Play
  • Nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Play
  • 6 Lucille Lortel Award nominations
  • 4 Out Critic Cricle nominations
  • 2 Drama League Award nominations
  • Playwright Nina Raine won the Evening Standard Award and Critics Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright for her debut play Rabbit

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