Kent Prof, Alum Discuss Shakespeare for Deaf

CHAMPION TOWNSHIP, Ohio – At Kent State University at Trumbull, a professor and former student recently delivered separate sessions aimed at improving performance of William Shakespeare’s theatrical classics for the deaf.

The sessions by Kent Trumbull English professor Carol Robinson and former theater student Richard Costes were presented at the Academic Symposium on Shakespeare in American Sign Language and Visual Shakespeare at Galludet University in Washington, D.C.

Robinson’s session focused on “the gestural connections between medieval theater, Shakespearean dumb-shows and the ways contemporary deaf theater highlights the connections.

“I became directly involved with the deaf community when I spent two years teaching at Gallaudet University during the early 1990s, while also writing my doctoral dissertation,” Robinson said in a release. “I have been devoted to the Deaf community ever since then.”

Costes’ presentation, co-written with Catawba College’s Claire Aston, was “Let Hands Do the Talking: Repositioning Discourse in Romeo & Juliet,” highlighting how actors can make “visually evocative” adaptations of the romantic tragedy to appeal to both deaf and hearing audiences. The session also touched on using similar adaptations for bilingual audiences.

Robinson has taught at Kent State Trumbull since 2000 and is working with colleagues from around the country to build a virtual museum of medievalism. Costes took classes at the campus before graduating from Kent State’s main campus in 2006. He was a founding member of the Mahoning Valley Players Summer Shakespeare Series.

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