1st Edition

Plays of Our Own An Anthology of Scripts by Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Writers

By Willy Conley Copyright 2023
    452 Pages 58 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    452 Pages 58 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Plays of Our Own is the first anthology of its kind containing an eclectic range of plays by Deaf and hard-of-hearing writers. These writers have made major, positive contributions to world drama or Deaf theatre arts.

    Their topics range from those completely unrelated to deafness to those with strong Deaf-related themes such as a dreamy, headstrong girl surviving a male-dominated world in Depression-era Ireland; a famous Spanish artist losing his hearing while creating his most controversial art; a Deaf African-American woman dealing with AIDS in her family; and a Deaf peddler ridiculed and rejected by his own kind for selling ABC fingerspelling cards. The plays are varied in style – a Kabuki western, an ensemble-created variety show, a visual-gestural play with no spoken nor signed language, a cartoon tragicomedy, historical and domestic dramas, and a situation comedy. This volume contains the well-known Deaf theatre classics, My Third Eye and A Play of Our Own.

    At long last, directors, producers, Deaf and hearing students, professors, and researchers will be able to pick up a book of "Deaf plays" for production consideration, Deaf culture or multicultural analysis, or the simple pleasure of reading.



    Contributor Biographies


    Chapter 1: The King of Spain’s Daughter* by Teresa Deevy

    Chapter 2: My Third Eye by The National Theatre of the Deaf Ensemble

    Chapter 3: A Play of Our Own by Dorothy Miles

    Chapter 4: The Ghost of Chastity Past or The Incident at Sashimi Junction* by Shanny Mow

    Chapter 5: DEAF SMITH: The Great Texian Scout by Stephen C. Baldwin

    Chapter 6: WomanTalk by Bruce Hlibok

    Chapter 7: 25 Cents by Aaron Kelstone

    Chapter 8: META by Patricia A. Durr

    Chapter 9: The Middle of Nowhere by Michele Verhoosky

    Chapter 10: A Not So Quiet Nocturne by Jaye Austin Williams

    Chapter 11: Profile of a Deaf Peddler by Mike Lamitola

    Chapter 12: Goya – en la Quinta del Sordo (in the house of the deaf man) by Willy Conley

    Chapter 13: Reflections of a Black Deaf Woman by Michelle Banks

    Chapter 14: Lost in the Hereafter* by Sabina England


    *denotes a play not about the Deaf experience, a D/deaf or hard-of-hearing person, nor Deaf culture


    Contributor Biographies


    Teresa Deevy, a prolific and established Irish playwright of the early twentieth century, studied at University College Dublin and University College Cork. Beginning in the mid- 1920s, the Abbey Theatre produced her plays Reapers, A Disciple, Temporal Powers, The King of Spain's Daughter, Katie Roche, and The Wild Goose. She was elected to the Irish Academy of Letters in 1954.

    The National Theatre of the Deaf Ensemble, originally based at the O’Neill Theatre Center in Waterford, Connecticut, created and performed My Third Eye. The company was comprised of ten deaf actors, two hearing actors, and one hearing musician: Fredricka Norman, Patrick Graybill, Richard Kendall, Timothy Scanlon, Mary Beth Miller, Dorothy Miles, Linda Bove, Edmund Waterstreet, Joseph Sarpy, Bernard Bragg, Dave Berman, Carol Flemming, and Kenneth Swiger. For over 50 years, NTD has toured all over the world performing simultaneously in two languages: for the eye, American Sign Language, and for the ear, the spoken word.

    Dorothy Miles graduated from Gallaudet University (1961) with distinctions and performed with the National Theatre of the Deaf. Perhaps the best-known British Sign Language poet, Miles is the author of the books, Bright Memory: The Poetry of Dorothy Miles, British Sign Language – a beginner’s guide, and Gestures: Poetry in Sign Language.

    Shanny Mow, formerly of Santa Fe, NM, was often associated with the NTD as an actor, resident playwright, director and instructor of acting and playwriting. He adapted Homer's The Iliad, The Odyssey, as well as Gilgamesh and Parzival, From the Horse's Mouth, which was performed at the Kennedy Center. As former artistic director of Fairmount Theatre of the Deaf – which became Cleveland SignStage Theatre – he wrote and directed Counterfeits, nominated for 1995 American Theatre Critics Association New Play Awards. His other works include The Cat Spanking Machine, Love Thy Neighbor, Letters from Heaven, Shakespeare Unmasked, La Legenda Da La Llorona, and Bell in Hell.

    Stephen C. Baldwin, a retired educator from Austin, TX, holds a BA in History, an MA in Deaf Education, and a Ph.D. in Theatre History, Theory and Criticism. Baldwin has had twenty-six plays produced, most related to Deaf culture and history. He is the author of Pictures in the Air: The Story of the National Theatre of the Deaf (Gallaudet University Press), and Backspace, a novella (Savory Words Publishing).

    Bruce Hlibok, from New York City, was a playwright, director, and the first Deaf actor to play a Deaf character on Broadway performing in the 1978 hit musical, Runaways. His plays Going Home, The Passion of Rita H, and WomanTalk were produced off-off Broadway. He is the author of the children’s book, Silent Dancer.

    Aaron Kelstone has been an actor, director, playwright, an artistic director, and business administrator for various theatre organizations over the past 15 years. He has an MA degree in English Literature from Cleveland State University, and an EdD in Education from Northeastern University. He is currently a Principal Lecturer at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, NY, and also serves as the Development Officer for the Department of Performing Arts.

    Patricia A. Durr was a founding member, artistic director and board member of LIGHTS ON! for a number of years. An award-winning filmmaker, she has written, directed and produced The Grey Area: His Date/Her Rape, HIV/AIDS Prevention for Deaf, Me Too, Exodus, Worry, and Don’t Mind? She holds an MS in Deaf Education from the University of Rochester/NTID and a BA in Sociology from LeMoyne College and is a retired professor of Deaf Cultural Studies and social sciences at NTID in Rochester, NY.

    Michele Verhoosky studied creative writing and theatre arts at Emerson College, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa/Magna cum Laude from UCONN. Her award-winning plays include A Laying of Hands, I See the Moon, The Middle of Nowhere, and Beyond the Blue, a new original play at the 6th Annual Women on Top Theater Festival in Cambridge, MA.

    Dr. Jaye Austin Williams is Assistant Professor and C. Graydon and Mary E. Rogers Faculty Fellow in the Department of Critical Black Studies at Bucknell University (Lewisburg, PA), where she specializes in the melding of drama, cinema, performance and Black Feminist theories with Critical Black Studies. She worked for thirty years in professional theatre as a director, playwright, actor and consultant, on and off Broadway and regionally, including being director-in-residence for Onyx Theatre Company in New York City throughout the 1990s.

    Mike Lamitola was a teacher, actor, playwright, storyteller, and advocate, devoted to Deaf theater. After earning his degree in Social Work from RIT, he toured with the National Theatre of the Deaf as an actor to 49 states and abroad and conducted numerous theater workshops. He served for 14 years as a faculty member for Gallaudet University’s Young Scholar’s Program.

    Willy Conley, originally from Baltimore, MD, is a retired professor and former chairperson of the Theatre Arts department at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. Conley, who has an MA in Playwriting from Boston University and an MFA in Theatre from Towson University, is an award-winning playwright whose work has appeared in numerous publications and productions internationally. He is the author of The World of White Water – Poems, Listening Through the Bone – Collected Poems, The Deaf Heart – a Novel, Vignettes of the Deaf Character and Other Plays, Broken Spokes, Visual-Gestural Communication – a Workbook in Nonverbal Expression and Reception, and Broken Spokes.

    Michelle A. Banks, a native of Washington, D.C., is an award-winning actress, writer, director, producer, choreographer, motivational speaker, and teacher. She co-wrote the plays There’s Butter, But No Bread – an adaptation of Waiting For Godot, and Black Women Stories: One Deaf Experience for Onyx Theatre Company. Banks holds a bachelor’s degree in Drama Studies from the State University of New York at Purchase, and a master’s degree in Organizational Management from Ashford University. She founded Onyx Theatre Company in New York City, the first deaf theater company in the United States for people of color. Currently, she is the Artistic Director of Visionaries of the Creative Arts (VOCA) in D.C.

    Sabina England is a fully Deaf playwright, performance artist, and award-winning filmmaker. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from University of Missouri and a certificate in Filmmaking from London Film Academy. Her plays have been produced in London, UK, at such locations as Soho Theatre, Tristan Bates Theatre, Theatre Royal Stratford East, and East 15 Acting School: How the Rapist was Born; A Study of the Human Condition; I Love to Eat, Drink and be Sad; Chess for Asian Punks, Greek Losers, and Dorks; and Dear Me, Where's My Angel? She currently lives and works in St. Louis, Missouri.


    Willy Conley is a retired professor/chairperson of Theatre and Dance at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. He is an award-winning playwright who has been widely published and produced. His recent book was Visual-Gestural Communication: A Workbook in Nonverbal Expression and Reception (Routledge, 2019).

    Read the book review published in New York Theater by Jonathan Mandell here.

    Promotional video of the book is available on author's YouTube channel.