This is a photo of the National Theatre of the Deaf appearing at the Tony Awards in 1977. The Tony Award is the most prestigious honor bestowed by Broadway in recognition of the talent and creativity of its actors, directors, musicians, choreographers and stage personnel. The NTD won a Tony for its ensemble work and its pioneering use of sign language in the theatre. The NTD appeared on Broadway twice* to critical acclaim (Clive Barnes of the New York Times wrote glowingly of the company in his theatre reviews). This was the first time a deaf theatre company was honored in this way.

(Left to right: Betty Bonni, Joe Sarpy,
Ed Waterstreet, Linda Bove, Freda Norman, Bernard Bragg and interpreter Bob Blumenfeld
— out of the photo frame are David Hays,
Phyllis Frelich and Jim Turner)

*First Broadway run –
          March 1969 at Longarce Theatre
Second Broadway run –
          January 1970 at ANTA Theatre

Interview with Marceau

MARCEL Marceau greatly influenced Bernard Bragg’s work as a creator of sign-mime, a language for the stage, which includes Visual Vernacular (VV) — a form of mime which Marceau himself admired very much. As mentioned in The Interview, Marceau was deeply impressed by how Bragg transformed the art of mime into theatricalized ASL for dramatic as well as poetic works — a departure from Marceau’s traditional, pure style of mime. Bragg’s theatrical extension of ASL catapulted the National Theatre of the Deaf into a unique place in the history of American theatre.

— Michael Schwartz


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