DeafBlind Theater Group Gives ProTactile Performances in Austin

November 16, 2018




[Toj, a light-skinned man with short brown hair, is sitting on a futon.]


[Toj] Did you know DeafBlind people have theater? How does that work? Good question.


An organization called ProTactile Theatre came from Seattle to here, Austin, TX and gave performances for DeafBlind Audiences.


[Three people are sitting on chairs in front of a “PTT” sign. They are wearing stage costumes. In the middle is Jasper, a light-skinned man wearing rose-colored glasses and a bowler hat. To the left is Samantha, a light-skinned woman wearing eyeglasses, a tiara, and a period costume dress. To the right is Yash, a light-skinned woman wearing eyeglasses and a black lace dress.]


[Jasper] Hello, welcome to PTT: ProTactile Theatre.


[Video clips of PTT actors doing a pro-tactile performance in a home living room with two audience members following along. They touch the actors’ hands and are able to interact with their costumes.]


[Close-up of a “PTT” sign with braille and comedy and tragedy masks.]


[Jasper - Co-Founder] What is PTT? It is a very unique experience related to touch, touching everything and feeling involved.


[Video clips of a “brailler” typing machine prop, coins used as props, and PTT actors performing.]


[Jasper] When DeafBlind people go other performances with an interpreter, they’re only given access to the dialogue the characters say, but what’s missing is being able to feel the costumes, props, and other things on set to understand what they look like. That’s the reason we decided to set up PTT.


[Video clips of a necklace prop, Jasper wearing a scarf, and audience members touching the props during the performance.]


[Terry H., Deaf-Blind Patron] Hello, I’m here today at PTT. I heard about them in Seattle, people said they’re champ, champ, you can’t miss it. Finally, they’re here in Austin.


[Video clips of actors acting out scenes with Terry touching them.]


[Yash, Co-Founder] The name of this play is “The Gift of the Magi”. Jasper and I created ways to involve PT language and DeafBlind culture into the play. So we changed parts of the play to match our culture.


[Video clip of Samantha saying a line with J.]


[Terry] My vision, before I went it, I thought I was going to sit and watch a performance with the SP and interpreter. I was wrong, it is all about touch. Deaf connection and touch. I enjoyed the acting and the storyline. What I had imagined at first was wrong, I felt connected to the story and the characters. There were a lot of laughs, and profound moments that led to an ending full of love, full of touch. It was champ.


[Video clip of Yash and Jasper saying lines with two audience members touching them.]


[Samantha P., Actor] There’s really no director. We’re all a team. We work together and collaborate on the play. We all support each other to make everything happen smoothly. They’re the co-founders, but we are still a team, we still work together to incorporate PT language and PT culture.


[Jasper] The purpose of PTT is to emphasize to the everyone in the community the need to respect our DeafBlind language.


[Video clip of Yash saying lines with two audience members touching her.]


[Jelica, a light-skinned woman, is sitting on a futon. She is wearing tinted eyeglasses. To her right is Toj, also sitting on the futon. He is touching her leg and tapping his hand whenever he makes head motions to indicate he is following.]


[Jelica] You asked me about the history of PT. PT doesn’t just mean ‘I support touch’. Protactile refers to our philosophy, our culture, how we live every day, which is through touch.


It started in Seattle, Washington because of the DeafBlind community there. You need to have a community to develop language. Without the community, it’s impossible to have the language.


[Video clips of a scene where the actors and audience circle around a couch, touching it.]


[Jelica] So we set up a business called Tactile Communications (TC) in Seattle. Many DeafBlind people were frustrated, quitting their jobs because they were losing their vision, and other reasons. Whenever I saw this, I would tell them you CAN continue working, but you have to understand how autonomy works.


You can come up with different systems, you don’t have to follow hearing or follow deaf systems. Why should we oppress ourselves? That sums up why TC partnered with PTT, because I want PT to continue, it’s very important to spread the message.


[Toj] I agree, it’s a very beautiful message, I look forward to seeing more from PTT and TC’s partnership in the future. Thank you.


[End scene with “The Daily Moth” light bulb logo and an animated moth flying away.]


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