Deaf Crows

Deaf Crows is a beautiful new physical theatre play from Thom Collegiate in Regina, written and performed by Deaf and Hard of Hearing youth and other members of the Deaf Community. 

Deaf Crows uses puppetry, mime, mask, projection, and American Sign Language poetry to tell personal stories about growing up deaf, and living as a deaf person in a hearing world. This acclaimed production is on tour following its SOLD OUT run in Regina.

Both ASL and voice interpreting are provided as part of the performance. 
 

Performance Dates

Friday, February 17th, 7 PM
Saturday, February 18th, 7 PM
Sunday, February 19th, 5:30 PM

** Stay after the 5:30 pm performance on Sunday, February 19th for a talk-back with the artists!

 

cast
 

Alex Bristow as PINE

I am 18 years old. Also I am Deaf Métis. I am so deaf and always will be for the rest of my life but I never give up. My dream is about teaching art to the little deaf kids. I love art because it has just changed my life and will help me get my own future ready. I do love drama.


Jacqueline Fink as JADE

I am 17 years old. I am hard of hearing. My goal is to do more theatre. My dream is to go to California. I feel cheery when I do art class. I feel exalted to do theatre class! When I am not doing theatre class I like to read funny books.

Fatima Tun Nafisa as BLOSSOM

I am fourteen years old. I am hard of hearing. My dream is to  design buildings architect when I finish University. I feel proud of my art. I am free and playful when I am doing it at home and high school. Chrystene teaches me at high school very well and make me attracted to art. My experience with theatre makes me feel proud and excited. When I have nothing to do I would like to read from library and write the vocabulary what I don’t know the word so English is important. I am doing art when I am free.

Taylor Schwab as RUBY

I am 16 years old and I am hard of hearing. I want to study hard to become a graphic artist. Theater is just amazing! I love the physical part of theater too. When I’m not in theater I’m studying for graphic arts.

 

Shayla-Rae Tanner as BLOOD

I am eighteen years old. I am Deaf and Cree First Nation. My goal is to go to Gallaudet University and learn to design fashion for First Nation. I feel so amazed when Chrystene teaches me about art work. I feel like there is a big change in my mind and my life too. I feel so inspired and amazed about theatre.

Tyson Zacharias as CORAL

I’m 16 years old and I am a hard of hearing student. My dream is to have a family and get a job doing computer work and my goals are to making comic books or making amazing stuff out of metal. The feeling about art is that the art makes me feel calm when I’m doing and thinking about art sometimes. The feeling about theatre is that the theatre will be amazing and a little bit funny and sad. When I'm not doing drama, I am looking for amazing art to make.

Allard Thomas as THE STORYKEEPER

I am the Deaf Elder at Thom Collegiate Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program.  My goal is to encourage Deaf and/or Hard of Hearing students to learn American Sign Language (ASL) in order to gain their English skills as their second language. ASL is a natural language created and used by Deaf people in both Canada and USA, much different from spoken English in grammatical rules and structure. I am involved in various organizations of/for the deaf locally, provincially, and nationally as an advocate and supporter.

I love and have loved arts since I was young. Whenever I go on trips, I always stop at museums, galleries, and historical sites. Also I love to watch signed theatrical productions. That is why I am currently involved in the drama production. My hobbies are gardening, watching sport games especially curling, baseball, and football, reading, and cooking.

Caroline Bergbusch as 1ST GRADE TEACHER

I was born Deaf.  I have been involved in teaching American Sign Language class for Regina ASL Program under the Sask Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (SDHHS) about 20 years.   I am working currently as the Administrative Assistant for Victims Services, Ministry of Justice for 22 years.  My passion is to teach the beautiful language – ASL to the deaf and hard of hearing and hearing children and hearing adults who have no ASL  because it is important for me to help them to learn ASL and improve their communication and signing skills.

I was a graduate of Central Collegiate in 1985.  I earned the Commercial Cooking certificate from the Red River Community College in Winnipeg in 1987 and worked in the food services for Luther College at the University of Regina for 11 years. I graduated from SIAST in 1994 as a Health Records Technician. I enrolled in the Microcomputer Business Application Diploma course at the Academy of Learning and completed successfully in 1996.

My hobbies are cooking, art painting, crocheting, crosstitching, sewing, and crafts. I enjoy swimming, walking,  shopping, going out to the restaurant and movie. I am involved in the deaf organization as secretary for Regina Association of the Deaf.  Acting is a very unique  fun exciting learning experience for me.

Twyla Chartrand as 4TH GRADE TEACHER

I am Deaf,  I was born Deaf due to three months premature birth. I went to School for the Deaf in Saskatoon at age 4 for about a year and a half and I was not happy and homesick, so I moved to be with my family and attended hearing school as a mainstreamed student till I was about 12 years old.  I noticed that I started to lose my friends due to communication difficulties and I was missing their conversations.   I moved back to the deaf school in Saskatoon at age 12 and spent my final years at the deaf school and Holy Cross High school.  I attended Gallaudet University and graduated in 1994.

 I am currently working for Saskatchewan Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services here in Regina, Sask. Being involved in this drama is an amazing experience for me.  I have learned so much about other deaf students, myself also other adults, and their experiences growing up as a deaf person and how they have interacted among with variety of hearing people.

Michelle Grodecki as MOTHER; VOICE interpreter 

I am an intensive needs teacher in Regina.  Most importantly I am the proud mom of a Deaf son and am passionate about raising awareness about Deaf issues and ensuring EVERY child in Saskatchewan has meaningful access to language.  After my son's hearing loss was identified, I started Saskatchewan Parents of Deaf & Hard of Hearing Children's support group to give DHH parents a chance to connect and understand the issues our children may face. 

I have been involved in Saskatchewan's Deaf community since 2011 and am currently President of Saskatchewan Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services (SDHHS) Board of Directors.  This past year, I paired up with Caroline Bergbusch and Twyla Chartrand to teach American Sign Language to families of children who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing.  Seeing children and parents connect through American Sign Language has ignited a deeper passion for Deaf education within me; this coming Fall, I will begin my post-baccalaureate Diploma in the Education of Students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ASL stream focus) from York University. 

James and Oscar
as THEMSELVES

James and Oscar entered the world 14 weeks early and just 4 minutes apart. What they lacked in size, they made up for immediately in personality. 

James is the oldest twin and the observer. He loves to watch people and how they interact. Don't let his apparent shyness fool you, he's full of spunk and practical jokes. Behind his silliness is a boy who wants nothing more than to please. He's sensitive, funny and oh so smart.

James has been using American Sign Language to communicate with his brother since he was 18 months old. He proudly boasts that he can speak three languages (although French just entered his world this year). 

Oscar was born with a personality that lights up a room. Affectionately known as "Mayor Oscar" by many who know him, Oscar can't go out in public without someone recognizing him and immediately needing to say hello. Oscar has shown what it truly means to be a fighter after suffering a near-fatal bowel perforation at just 3 months old. He defied the odds and is now a spunky 7 year old boy who clearly has a purpose! Oscar was diagnosed with Auditory Neuropathy and a profound hearing loss when he was 18 months old and has been using ASL as his primary form of communication ever since.  Oscar is proudly Deaf and loves being involved in the Deaf community.

Murray Valiaho as STORYKEEPER'S VOICE

Murray Valiaho is a retired educator who taught in a variety of educational settings including the R.J.D. Williams Provincial School for the Deaf from 1985 through 1990. He studied at the University of Western Ontario in London, earning a B. A. in Sociology and B. Ed. and later from the University of Saskatchewan, a P.G.Ed in the Education of Exceptional Children.  During his time in London, Ontario, Murray volunteered at the Robarts School for the Deaf and also did research in Deaf education. 

For his post graduate degree Murray did a research paper on Deaf youth's understanding of humour in written English.  Murray's first exposure to the Deaf community was when he met Allard Thomas at a University party in Regina way back in about 1973.  Murray was born in Regina and lives there now with his wife, Joanne (see bio notes in this section).

Paula Weber as THE AUDIOLOGIST 

Lyric soprano Paula Weber is passionate about music education. She teaches at the Conservatory of Performing Arts in Regina and conducts the Juventus Chorus, a non-auditioned tier of the Juventus choirs for young voices at the conservatory. Paula is an MFA candidate at the U of R in Interdisciplinary studies: Music and Creative Technologies, and has been a member and soloist with the U of  Chamber singers and the Halcyon Chamber choir. She has an extensive performance background, most recently playing Emma in Sterling Production’s Jekyll and Hyde.

Chrystene Ells - DIRECTOR, DRAMATURG

Interdisciplinary artist Chrystene Ells spent 20 years in the San Francisco special effects industry making creatures and puppets for films like The Nightmare Before Christmas, while directing and performing for dozens of plays and co-founding the now 29-year-old theatre Bindlestiff Studio. She also created and directed r.a.t.co., a multicultural physical theatre ensemble of at-risk San Francisco youth.

Ells moved to Regina to make her feature film Sisu (2010). directed KaleidoCycle at Globe Theatre, was puppetfilm Artist-in-Residence at the Saskatchewan Filmpool, and is Artistic Director of Regina’s Prairie Puppet Underground and the International Puppet Underground Festival (IPUF). With Common Weal Community Arts, Ells co-developed a memory-based art program for seniors living in care homes, and serves as co-Artistic Director of the city-wide arts festival The Caligari Project (fall 2016). Honours include Governor General’s Gold Medal (Academic), the Lt Governor’s Arts Award, and a Regina Mayor’s Arts Award. Chrystene is very grateful to her art colleague Berny, and to Joanne, Allard, and the students for allowing  her to participate in the rich cultural world of the Deaf community. She is especially humbled by the generosity and bravery of the young ensemble members as they share their own Deaf experiences in hopes of helping to make the world a better place for other deaf children and youth.

Berny Hi - ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, CO-WRITER

Filmmaker, performer, and visual artist Berny Hi is endlessly fascinated by nature and aspects of the human experience: beauty, sensation, and our unique perception of time and space.

Through Artist’s Residencies with Saskatchewan organizations and schools, Berny aspires to support unheard voices through creative, collaborative adventures and manual, hands-on processes.

While working for 7 years at the non-profit Saskatchewan Filmpool Cooperative, Berny fell in love with the independent arts scene in the province, and went on to become a founding member of two artist-run non-profits: The Prairie Puppet Underground, creating and exhibiting visionary puppetry, and The Cabinet Collective, an umbrella organization dedicated to city-wide festivals that cross-pollinate multiple art disciplines through a common theme. He finds that there is simply not enough time in a day.

Working with the entire team of Deaf Crows has been a life-fulfilling experience for Berny. Each day has been a filled with jubilation as the students passionately crafted their script and developed their performance. Berny is honoured and humbled to be welcomed into their world, to be made part of the beautiful moments of creative explosion from the tenacious human spirit present in each student, and their mentors, Allard and Joanne.

Joanne Weber - CO-WRITER, CO-DIRECTOR

Joanne Weber is a Deaf teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing at Thom Collegiate.  She earned her B.A. Honours in English Literature and a B.Ed. at the University of Saskatchewan, and a Master’s in Library Science from the University of Alberta.  She also attended a graduate studies program in Deaf Education at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. She is certified by the Canadian Association of Educators of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CAEDHH).

In addition to writing reports,  she is also a published author.  Her books, The Pear Orchard (poetry) and The Deaf House (creative non-fiction) were finalists in the Saskatchewan Book Awards (2007, 2013).  Joanne is also a leader in the Deaf community at provincial and national levels.  Her lifelong passion is to improve the quality of education for d/Deaf and hard of hearing students. Currently, she is a PhD candidate at the University of Regina, specializing in Language and Literacy with a focus on the education of the deaf. But working with Chrystene Ells, Berny Hi and the DHH students at Thom Collegiate on the Saskatchewan Arts Board funded art and literacy program and the Deaf Crows production tops everything Joanne has ever done in her professional life!

David Volk - STAGE MANAGER

I am Deaf and I am 19 years old. My dream is to go to Gallaudet University, the world's liberal university for the Deaf in Washington D.C..

I want to be a Deaf teacher for deaf kids. I also want to be a carpenter, as a hobby.

The arts inspire me a lot. This is my first time to be a Stage Manager.

Lee Agarand - INTERPRETER and SUPPORT

Mr.”A” as he is known to his students is an interpreter for the deaf. He was born in Saskatoon to Deaf parents and moved to Regina when he was 14. Lee discovered sign language interpreting in 1982. He joined Regina Public Schools in 1998 and has been working for them ever since. Lee’s experience comes from growing up with Deaf parents as well as being active in the Deaf community.