Arts·Seen and Heard

30 Deaf and hearing people put on a unique show, and things get dramatic — even for theatre

Seen & Heard's 8 episodes follow this Montreal group's production of The Little Mermaid beyond the curtain call.

Seen & Heard follows this Montreal group's production of The Little Mermaid beyond the curtain call

What happens when physiotherapy student Aselin Weng and her Deaf boyfriend Giacomo Volpe, neither with any theatre experience, unite 30 Deaf and hearing people to mount a unique theatrical adaptation of The Little Mermaid​? An eye-opening window into an exceptional world unfolds.

Our new digital series Seen & Heard, streaming now, follows the process of casting and staging this mixed English and American Sign Language (ASL) production by Seeing Voices Montreal. To make things more complex, many of the cast and crew have little or no theatre experience, and most of the Montreal actors use Langue de Signes Québécoise (LSQ) and don't know any ASL or English.

Watch the trailer:

Stream the full series now on cbc.ca/seenandheard or see a new episode weekly on our YouTube channel!

Seen & Heard extends beyond the theatre with the offstage story of Aselin's parents, who don't want their daughter dating a Deaf person, and the day-to-day challenges the Deaf cast and crew face navigating the hearing world. Constant drama unfolds everywhere — not just on the stage. The biggest struggle happens in the wings, where the norms and values of Deaf culture clash with those of the hearing world. Will the group be able to pull it together and pull it off for showtime? Watch the series to find out!

See what's ahead in the episodes below and stream the full series now!

Episode 1: Anchors Away

The group's founders explain their ideals for this mixed Deaf and hearing theatre group. But plans to conduct a first meeting in sign language get derailed, leaving the Deaf participants frustrated. Watch the episode.

Episode 2: Rocking the Boat

Director Jack tests out his play's jokes on a hearing pal while producer Aselin shares how she started the theatre group — and became estranged from her parents in the process. Watch the episode.

Episode 3: Auditions

Jack's hearing teammates join him to help audition actors for The Little Mermaid's hearing roles. But the team starts to panic when no Deaf women come to audition for the lead role. Watch the episode.

Episode 4: At Sea

The team finally casts the lead role. Rehearsals start and the largely LSQ/French cast struggles with the English script and ASL signs. Cast members share their very different experiences growing up Deaf. Watch the episode.

Episode 5: Learning the Ropes

The Deaf crew share their challenges finding work in the hearing world. When Deaf actors mock a hearing actor who can't read their signs, Jack finds a way to help the Deaf and hearing actors connect. Watch the episode.

Episode 6: Running a Tight Ship

Tough new stage manager Lyanna starts running a tighter ship, and director Jack and actor David lock horns over a costume that will impede an actor's communication to Deaf audience members. Watch the episode.

Episode 7: Curtain Up!

Tension and chaos abound before showtime when director Jack gathers everyone for a last pep talk and group hug. The curtain rises. The audience loves the show and the cast is elated! But then... Watch the episode.

Episode 8: Curtain Down...

A showdown between the frustrated stage manager and director Jack erupts before the final performance, and a painful post-mortem reveals the group's growing pains. Watch the episode.