Action speaks louder than words

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 October, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 October, 2004, 12:00am

There are many forms of expression, such as speech and body language, but a group of hearing-impaired actors will show that action speaks louder than words with two performances later this month.

The Theatre of the Silence will stage The Monkey's Paw and A Journey into the World of Visual Wonders at 8pm on October 22 and 23 at Sha Tin Town Hall.

'Actors can learn from their hearing-impaired counterparts who are better in body language. The latter use techniques such as mime and body gestures to convey a message,' says award-winning director Bernard Bragg, a pioneer in deaf theatre in the United States. Using sign language, Bragg - who is hearing-impaired - has studied with well-known theatre names such as Etienne Decroux, Marcel Marceau, Peter Brook and Joseph Chaikin.

The Monkey's Paw is about a soldier who reveals a secret to a family - how he unwittingly acquired a monkey's paw in India.

Bragg says it is actually an advantage that the performance lacks dialogue and revolves only around body movements.

'Basically, people from different countries such as China and Japan have the same expressions for joy, anger, grief and happiness,' he says.

'I can bring this show to different places because everyone can understand it without language.'

A Journey into the World of Visual Wonders is a light-hearted performance that showcases the amazing techniques of sign language, movement and mime.

Comprising different theatrical elements such as poetry interpretations and story-telling, the production demonstrates the visual sensitivity and poetic expressiveness of hearing-impaired performers.

'They [the performers] will do some improvisational work in front of audiences,' explains Bragg.

During rehearsal, actor Edwin Chan Yu-fat tells the story of the lion and the rat by presenting the animals and the plot with lively gestures.

The results can be interesting and captivating, like a guessing game between the performers and the audience.

'We make use of what I call cinematics in theatre. We use film techniques, like presenting the event frame by frame,' Bragg says.

Although not all people are visually-oriented like deaf theatre performers or directors, Bragg says it is something that can be learned.

'Going to the theatre can be an opportunity for learning. It is not only a place for absorbing different performing styles and cultures, but also a venue for enjoyment,' he says.

Call Urbtix on 2734 9009 for ticket reservations.

There will be a free pre-performance talk and demonstration tomorrow at 3pm at Hong Kong Cultural Centre by Bragg and members of the Theatre of the Silence. For more information, call 2268 7323.