‘ve been volunteering off and on for Deaf West Theater for about a year now, more off than on. It’s been a strange experience. Usually I go in to help with behind the scenes work or to help in the office, and I don’t meet any Deaf people. I meet a lot of hearing people who know sign, but the folks who are assigned to deal with the volunteers are all hearing. It’s probably better that way. You never know what kinds of volunteers you’re getting or how competent their ASL is.
Prior to my volunteer stint, I also applied for an internship at Deaf West. I’ve been in theater my whole life and I know what’s going on. I’ve also worked lots of office jobs to support my theater habit, so I know my way around an office too. I felt like the interview went really well, and I was excited to work with them. Unfortunately, I was a few school units shy of qualifying for the internship. That’s when I decided to volunteer instead. It has been fun. I didn’t realize how much I miss real theater and real theater people. Disney seems to either chew these people up and spit them out or slowly change them into happy Disney techs. The debauchery and uncouthness that’s so prevalent back stage doesn’t really exist there, and that’s part of what I love so much. When Deaf West asked for volunteers to help usher for their new production, “My Sister In This House,” I signed up immediately, and also included my phone number in case they had any problems.
I was called later the same day. They needed a wardrobe person for backstage ASAP, and remembered that I had a lot of experience with costuming. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance. They asked me to do basically the same job I’m doing at Disney… put people in costumes, make sure the costumes are being sent to the correct cleaning places (washing machine or dry cleaner?), and doing minor repairs if buttons break etc. Instead of dealing with costumes for 100+ people like I do at Disney, they have a cast of no more than 20. I figured that volunteering and giving up all those Saturday nights was worth it for all the experience I would be getting. Working with Deaf actors would also allow me to improve my rusty ASL. Then they let me know they would be paying me a stipend.
WOW! Was all I could think. My 2 favorite things in the world are ASL and Theater, and I would be getting paid to work at an ASL theater. You can’t get better than that. I start going to rehearsals this week and I can’t wait to meet everyone. This is such an exciting opportunity!!