Sunday, February 1, 2009

Deaf Actress Takes Lead in Play

Children of a Lesser God will be playing at the Barksdale Theatre in Richmond, Virginia starting this Friday. The Tony award-winning show hit Broadway in 1980, telling the story of a troubled deaf woman and a hearing teacher at a school for the deaf. Marlee Matlin starred in the 1986 film version.

Taking the female lead in the Barksdale version will be Erica Siegel. The 31-year-old grew up in Maryland, suffering hearing loss as a child because of an illness. She refused to wear hearing aids even when she attended Emory University. Siegel compensated for it by learning to lip read. She is strengthening her sign language skills for the part in the play. Siegal used Signed English (signing that follows English grammar) to communicate with deaf friends and not ASL.

Siegel recently played deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie at the Imagination Stage in Bethesda, Maryland in the show Playing From the Heart. She also toured with Wings Company, a group of deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing actors that work with Quest: Arts for Everyone.