Why We Exist
I often think that some of the most powerful theatrical experiences I’ve had over the years are the ones I didn’t see coming, the ones I didn’t know I needed to see until I saw them. The ones that surprised me. As a director, I still enjoy those surprises from inside a project (thankfully!) and this is what I love about what we offer at Verb. You may not know what to expect at a Verb show, but you can expect the unexpected. You can be sure we’ll surprise you.
In 2012, we embarked on a bit of an ambitious project called NOISE: A Musical for Deaf and Hearing Audiences. In a sentence, our goal had been to create a show that both Deaf and hearing audiences could enjoy and experience equally and simultaneously, without the aid of sign language interpreters or translators. In another sentence, we wanted to experiment with what Deaf performance could offer traditional theatre performance. For example, we turned sign-language poetry into both dance and song so that both hearing and Deaf audiences could access the meaning.
The show was a lot of things – wild, experimental, complex, innovative – but the thing that always sticks with me about this show was the audience response to our “approach” to the show. Some people loved it, some people hated it, some people (for better or worse) were brought to tears. What was cool, though, was that most people were surprised by it.
What’s more, half of these people were Deaf and half were hearing, and by attending the show, they were able to see the world through the other’s eyes for a bit. One mother commented that this was the first time she’d been able to attend a performance with her Deaf daughter, and though I didn’t know enough sign language to understand their conversation, they left the theatre with hands excitedly buzzing over their shared experience at our show.
Knowing that we’ve offered something to someone that they didn’t know they needed is the fuel that keeps our fire lit here at Verb.