Prince Hamlet's signing narrator a 'storyteller that reflects the world' around us, director says
Dawn Jani Birley, a deaf actress, will perform her role as Horatio in sign language
At the theatre, you may spot an interpreter at the sidelines — their hands moving fluidly to capture in sign language what the actors are saying on stage.
Toronto play Prince Hamlet reinterprets that role on the stage itself.
Director Ravi Jain's vision for one of Shakespeare's most iconic plays will create a space where both hearing and deaf audiences are on similar footing.
"For me, it's really about us expanding our imaginations to have storytellers that reflect the world that I see around me on the stage in front of me."
Prince Hamlet features deaf actress Dawn Jani Birley, who plays Horatio and will also act as a narrator. While those who are hard of hearing will experience the production through Birley's signing performance, there will be no interpreter to communicate verbally what she's saying for the rest in the audience.
Other actors do have speaking roles.
Challenging the audience
Both the actress and the director say this accessible play creates an intersection where hearing and deaf audiences can experience the production differently, but equally. The story will also be told through body movement and facial expression, which will add a richer layer of meaning, the pair say.
Jain said he hopes his casting decisions — which also include having women play male roles and vice versa — will spark a conversation, even an internal one, with his audience.
Prince Hamlet runs until April 29 at The Theatre Centre, located at 1115 Queen St W,