NY Deaf Theatre brings duality of 'Jekyll and Hyde' to stage

Mon Nov 10, 2014 2:55pm EST
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Instead of applauding, a sea of waving hands rose up from the audience to show their approval as the cast returned to the stage to bow at the end of "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," the newest production by the New York Deaf Theatre.

The play, which opens Tuesday for a limited run at the June Havoc Theater in Manhattan, is performed by a cast of deaf and hearing actors who use American Sign Language (ASL) and speak the lines simultaneously.

"We basically cast two people for each role," said JW Guido, an actor and the artistic director of the New York Deaf Theatre (NYDT), said in an interview through an ASL interpreter.

"The show is performed with deaf actors signing in ASL and the hearing actors will simultaneously be speaking their lines," he added.

"The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," adapted from the novella by Robert Louis Stevenson, is Guido's fourth production for the company since taking over as artistic director four years ago.

Set in London in the late 1880s, it follows renowned British scientist Dr. Henry Jekyll as he explores the darker side of human nature by concocting a chemical formula that enables him to transform himself into the evil, murderous Edward Hyde.

Jekyll keeps his exploits secret from his friends with the help of his loyal maid and butler, who act as the narrators for the play.

"I wanted something classic and it is beautifully written," said Guido, 28. "When I found this translation of the script, I thought it would be great and would give the actors an opportunity to do something classic."   Continued...