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Deaf Side Story

Deaf Sharks, Hearing Jets, and a Classic American Musical

Mark Rigney

Publication Year: 2003

This telling book reveals the critical role played by a little-known group called the “Ducks,” a tight-knit band of six alumni determined to see a deaf president at Gallaudet. Deaf President Now! details how they urged the student leaders to ultimate success, including an analysis of the reasons for their achievement in light of the failure of many other student movements. This fascinating study also scrutinizes the lasting effects of this remarkable episode in “the civil rights movement of the deaf.” Deaf President Now! tells the full story of the insurrection at Gallaudet University, an exciting study of how deaf people won social change for themselves and all disabled people everywhere through a peaceful revolution.

Published by: Gallaudet University Press

Author’s Note

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p. xii-xii

For their time and insights, my thanks to the many cast, crew, and creative team members who assisted in this project. For their support and cooperation, both tacit and explicit, I would like to thank the administration...

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pp. 1-3

On Sunday, February 6, in the year 2000, one full day before the start of rehearsals for West Side Story, director Diane Brewer discovers through a newspaper photograph that her leading man, the actor slated to play Tony, has effectively dropped...

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pp. 4-22

Jacksonville, Illinois, sits on the fold of the map some thirty-five miles west of Springfield, the state capital. Interstate 72 races past, intent on reaching the Iowa border. Corn and soybeans dominate the landscape; the last vestiges of native prairie have long since been plowed under...

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Jet Song

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pp. 23-42

March 2, 1999. The revised body of the steering committee convenes for the first time. The basement of Rutledge Hall is warm and humid, and the English Department lounge, where the meeting takes place, looks tired...

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Something’s Coming

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pp. 43-60

It’s April 13, 1999, and Jacksonville’s gardens have shot toward the skies, powered by a sudden and unseasonable warm spell. The opening topic at the latest steering committee...

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Dance at the Gym

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pp. 61-80

Christopher Smith is a man so replete with contradictions that he can be entirely baffling. He is a trained dancer, light on his feet, creative, and more than competent in his craft, yet he also has moments of extraordinary clumsiness...

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pp. 81-91

Until the final week of rehearsals, Pearlene Jo, the actress chosen to portray Maria, displays an uncanny knack for losing, from one rehearsal to the next, her lines, her cues, and even the most basic elements of her blocking...

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pp. 92-105

Mac and ISD have embarked on West Side Story during what promises to be a key election year, yet neither the Republican nor Democratic camps, led by George W. Bush and Al Gore, respectively, show the least interest in courting the votes of the Deaf community...

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pp. 106-114

Feburary 2000. The Mac theater space cannot contain its own rehearsals. Actors spill out the doors, flood the hallways, and seep into lecture halls and classrooms. Two and sometimes three separate groups rehearse all at once...

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One Hand, One Heart

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pp. 115-127

In a vintage Star Trek episode, Captain Kirk attempts to beam back aboard the Enterprise during one of the show’s ubiquitous ion storms and gets split into two Kirks. One half of him materializes as a soulful conscience, the other as a vibrant, aggressive leader...

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Quintet (Tonight Medley)

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pp. 128-139

Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary defines cacophony as: 1. a harsh discordance of sound; dissonance; 2. a discordant and meaningless mixture of different sounds; 3. Music. Frequent use of discords of a harshness and relationship difficult...

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The Rumble

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pp. 140-147

Fighting: the need to fight, and ways to avoid it are, to Diane, still central to the entire West Side Story project, even though the early objections about gangs have subsided. She understands why many people choose to focus on the violence...

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I Feel Pretty

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pp. 148-162

Mid-March 2000. As any theater director will gloomily attest, there comes a time in every rehearsal process where, shortly after the midpoint has been reached, nothing works, nothing can work, and the odds are good that nothing ever will. Morale is low, the set is in a permanent state...

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pp. 163-168

On March 27, Joey Gillis (Chino) fails to board the ISD bus at the end of the school’s spring break and, in so doing, effectively becomes the eighth actor to quit the faltering cast. In much of the world, missing a bus would be a minor incident, no cause for alarm. ISD, however, has a very strict...

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Gee, Officer Krupke

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pp. 169-180

West Side Story contains two traditional showstoppers. The first is “America,” which comes midway through the first act. The second is “Gee, Officer Krupke,” a song that positively bubbles with energy. Its inclusion in the second act is due entirely to the “drunken porter” defense used...

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A Boy Like That/I Have a Love

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pp. 181-193

Box office headaches plague West Side Story from the very minute that tickets go on sale. It has been more than two decades since any kind of Mac production has threatened to sell out, and no infrastructure exists to deal with the situation...

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pp. 194-206

The second dress rehearsal. The majority of the cast is not pleased with the run-through, but Diane, concerned with morale and the wear and tear on the singer’s voices, announces at the end of Monday night that the next night’s rehearsal...

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pp. 207-211

The production is long gone. At least half of Mac’s student body has no memory of West Side Story having ever happened and, what with the cast and crew having scattered to the four winds, much the same situation applies at ISD...

End Credits

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pp. 212-214


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pp. 215-218

About the Author

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p. 219-219

E-ISBN-13: 9781563683275
E-ISBN-10: 156368327X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781563681455
Print-ISBN-10: 1563681455

Page Count: 192
Illustrations: 10 photographs
Publication Year: 2003