National Theatre of the Deaf | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

National Theatre of the Deaf 

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Using sign language, gesture, mime, and choreographed movement as well as spoken word, sound, and music, this 25-year-old ensemble creates theater by and for both hearing and hearing-impaired people. It invariably offers playful twists on the classic literary material it works with; its version of Homer's Odyssey treated the tale as a diversion spun by soldiers inside the Trojan Horse. In this season's offering, an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's adventure story Treasure Island, the pirate Billy Bones approaches the audience and orders them to put up their hands--so they can sing and sign along with him on the pirates' anthem "Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum"; and when the hero Jim Hawkins--played by a woman--hides in an apple barrel and eavesdrops on Long John Silver and his band of cutthroats, she watches them through a hole in the barrel rather than listening. The troupe's shows are generally for all ages; in addition, during the troupe's Chicago-area engagement this weekend, its kids-oriented Little Theatre of the Deaf performs a program of stories (including several of James Thurber's satirical "Fables for Our Time"), "dream theater," and improv. At Barat College, November 2 (Drake Theatre, 700 E. Westleigh, Lake Forest, 708-295-2620). The schedule is as follows: Little Theatre of the Deaf, Saturday, 2 PM. $5. Treasure Island, Saturday, 8 PM. $16.

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