Theatre Cedar Rapids announced this afternoon that it will halt production on “Tribes,” set to open Oct. 21.
The Deaf Community objected when two hearing actors were cast in the roles of a young man born deaf and a young woman who is nearly deaf. The ensuing controversy culminated in a public forum Tuesday, where members of the Deaf Community aired their grievances and perspective with TCR staff members, several TCR volunteers and other interested parties gathered at Connectivity in Cedar Rapids.
Here is TCR’s statement:
“In light of conversation among and feedback from the Deaf community and after a great deal of conversation and soul-searching with TCR staff, Tribes director David Schneider, and the cast of Tribes, TCR has decided to postpone our production of Tribes until we can gain the support of the Deaf community and collaborate with them in finding d/Deaf actors to play the deaf roles as well as ensure that we are portraying the deaf experience in an authentic and respectful way.
“While we have not finalized all our plans going forward, we are planning to create programming that will instruct us in the culture of the Deaf community as well as encourage the Deaf community to participate in theatre. As those plans solidify, we will make them public.
“We are truly grateful for the support of our TCR community, the Corridor’s theatre community at large, and the Deaf community. While this whole experience was difficult and often emotional, TCR has learned a great deal and has made this decision because we have always believed and believe even stronger now that our responsibility as a community theatre is to represent the whole community that we serve. This postponement is our sincere and earnest way to meet our mission of serving the entire community and specifically to do right by the Deaf community as we share their stories in an authentic and collaborative way. And we hope that the conversation that was started among controversy and emotion can be focused toward a positive and long-lasting partnership with the theatre community and the Deaf community.
“If you are interested in getting involved in this process as an actor, interpreter, or partner, please email firstname.lastname@example.org at your earliest convenience to express your interest. Patrons with tickets to Tribes will be contacted by the theatre directly in the coming days.” — Leslie Charipar, Artistic Director