The Loudest Man on Earth
by Catherine Rush
directed by Pamela Berlin
originally produced at TheatreWorks,
Palo Alto, CA.
July 10, 2013
through August 4, 2013
The Loudest Man on Earth by Catherine Rush is truly unlike any play we have ever seen, let alone produced. It is a romantic drama and like any good love story, these star-crossed lovers come from different worlds: one deaf and one of the hearing. The play is told in two languages, English and American Sign Language, and the dialogue is frequently a mix of the two (without supertitles or interpretation). As their connection grows, so do the obstacles that threaten to keep them apart, not the least of which is our society’s rampant discrimination and ignorance of the deaf.
Catherine Rush has had an eclectic education, and summing up in her own words about her educational journey- “Everything I experience informs my work.” When Rush started studying American Sign Language (ASL) she did not know a single deaf person. Being a huge believer in following the path of curiosity- Rush ended up marrying director/actor Adrian Blue who is deaf, and writing a play about a relationship between a deaf man and a hearing women (not autobiographical).
Artistic Director Robert Kelley describes the impression this piece made on him and our Festival audiences, and how it will benefit from extra time in the rehearsal room:
"I watch the audience sometimes—there’s a lot to be learned there. One night, though there was no sound coming from the stage, the audience was hushed, with entire aisles unconsciously leaning forward, completely mesmerized by a monologue. This was the first reading of The Loudest Man on Earth, at our 2012 New Works Festival, and I knew immediately that it belonged on our season. As deaf actor Adrian Blue delivered the first of many such monologues in the play, that moment of intense communication proved that this new play about communication worked brilliantly.
There had been much to prove. Could a play with a deaf leading character succeed without an interpreter, subtitles, or offstage reader, even with sustained monologues delivered directly to the audience without speech? The answer was yes. I had directed Children of a Lesser God years ago, but this was an entirely different experience of the deaf world, a play that changed forever my perceptions about how and why we communicate.
The challenge goes beyond the cuts and rewrites that all new works require. Here, as words and sentences become gestures, signs, and pantomimes, each change must be tested for audience understanding of what is being communicated. That unique challenge makes The Loudest Man on Earth the perfect candidate to fulfill the great promise of an Edgerton grant.
Director: Pamela Berlin
TheatreWorks Board Emeritus
Dan & Catharine Garber
Fergus Garber Young Architects