Detail View: RIT/NTID Deaf Studies Archive: An African American film story ; Play with ASL!

Filename: 
ds_0064_cookeaton_cap_01.mp4
Identifier: 
ds_0064_cookeaton_cap_01.mp4
Title: 
An African American film story ; Play with ASL!
Creator: 
Eaton, Isias
Subject: 
American Sign Language literature
Subject: 
Deaf, Writings of the, American
Subject: 
Deaf, Theater for the
Subject: 
Storytelling
Subject: 
Mime
Subject: 
Deaf Poetry
Subject: 
ASL poetry
Summary: 
Isias Eaton leads several other players in a performance incorporating sign mime, ASL, and video art to tell the story of African Americans' enslavement and struggle for freedom. Next, Peter Cook demonstrates techniques which help students to expand their potential in creating with ASL. A videotape of student work produced during Cook's residencies at Lexington and Fanwood schools is shown. In addition, students from Lexington and Fanwood schools give a short performance. The short performance is about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Publisher: 
National Technical Institute for the Deaf
Digital Publisher: 
Rochester Institute of Technology - RIT Libraries - RIT Archive Collections
Contributor: 
Cook, Peter S.
Contributor: 
American Sign Language Literature Conference (2nd 1996 National Technical Institute for the Deaf)
Date of Original: 
1996
Date of Digitization: 
2018
Broad Type: 
moving image
Digital File Format: 
mp4
Physical Format: 
VHS
Dimensions of Original: 
56 minutes
Language: 
American Sign Language
Language: 
English
Original Item Location: 
RITDSA.0064
Library Collection: 
Sculptures in the Air: An Accessible Online Video Repository of the American Sign Language (ASL) Poetry and Literature Collections
Library Collection: 
Karen Christie ASL Literature Collection
Digital Project: 
2018-2019 CLIR Grant-ASL Poetry and Literature
Catalog Record: 
https://albert.rit.edu/record=b3955846
Catalog Record: 
https://twcarchivesspace.rit.edu/repositories/2/resources/852
Place: 
New York - Rochester
RIT Spaces and Places: 
Henrietta Campus
Rights: 
RIT Libraries makes materials from its collections available for educational and research purposes pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. It is your responsibility to obtain permission from the copyright holder to publish or reproduce images in print or electronic form.
Rights: 
CC BY-NC-ND: Attribution NonCommercial NoDerivatives 4.0 International
Transcript: 
[LAUGHTER] [LAUGHTER] [BIRDS CHIRPING] [LAUGHTER] WOMAN: I THINK I'M GONNA TALK ABOUT HOW I FINALLY ARRIVED AT THIS PRODUCT AND WHAT MY ROAD TO GET IT TO THIS POINT WAS LIKE. I THINK I HAVE TO START AND GO BACK TO 1986. AND IF YOU COME ALONG WITH ME, WHERE WE'RE GOING TO GO TO IS TEXAS. I THINK YOU'RE FAMILIAR WITH BIG SPRING, TEXAS. THERE'S THE SOUTHWEST TECHNICAL SCHOOL THERE. MAN: COLLEGIATE INSTITUTE FOR THE DEAF. WOMAN: SOUTHWEST COLLEGIATE INSTITUTE FOR THE DEAF. AND I BEGAN TO WORK WITH STUDENTS. AND WHEN I DID... I WORKED WITH STUDENTS WHO TRADITIONALLY HAD BEEN CRITICIZED FOR THE USE OF ENGLISH, HAD HAD PROBLEMS WITH WORKING IN ENGLISH AND THE RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR STUDENTS WHO ARE ESTRANGED BECAUSE OF ALL OF THIS. WHEN A TEACHER LOOKED AT THE STUDENT'S PRODUCT, IT WOULD SAY, "YESTERDAY, ME YESTERDAY HAD A LOT OF FUN." "I WAS IN A CAR THAT WENT VERY, VERY FAST." "WENT TO THE MALL. MET A BEAUTIFUL GIRL, "VERY, VERY BEAUTIFUL, AND WE DANCED THE NIGHT LONG." AND WHEN I LOOKED AT THEIR STORIES, I'D SAY, "YOU KNOW, WHAT YOU TOLD ME AND WHAT YOU WRITE IS A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT." [CHUCKLING] [LAUGHTER] WELL, THE STUDENTS THEMSELVES CREATED THIS PARTICULAR STORY. AND I LOOKED AT THEIR WRITTEN WORK, AND I SAID, "WHERE'S THE STORY YOU JUST TOLD ME? IT'S NOT EVEN CLOSE TO WHAT YOU'VE WRITTEN FOR ME." WELL, IT'S THE SAME OLD PROBLEM, ISN'T IT? THERE'S BEEN A LONG-AGE PROBLEM AND FRUSTRATION WITH THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. MORE OFTEN, STUDENTS HAVE BEEN CONTINUALLY AND THROUGH YEARS CRITICIZED ABOUT HOW THEY NEED TO WORK IN ENGLISH. AND LATER IN LIFE, THEY'RE TURNED DOWN FOR JOB OPPORTUNITIES AGAIN BECAUSE OF THEIR LACK OF COMMAND WITH ENGLISH. MAN: THEY WOULD BE TURNED DOWN. WOMAN: AND THEY WOULD BE TURNED DOWN FROM GALLAUDET OR NTID BASED ON THEIR WRITTEN APPLICATIONS AS WELL. BUT WHEN YOU LOOK AT THEIR SKILLS IN THEIR OWN NATIVE LANGUAGE, THEY'VE GOT EXQUISITE LANGUAGE...COMMAND. AND BASED ON THEIR NATURAL NATIVE LANGUAGE, THEY SHOULD BE SUCCESSFUL IN ANY VENTURE THEY TAKE. [MAN SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY] WOMAN: BUT THE PROBLEM IS IS BECAUSE THEIR FRUSTRATION WITH THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, THEY'VE LOST THEIR CONFIDENCE IN EXPRESSING THEMSELVES... [LAUGHTER] THAT THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR ENGLISH TEACHERS HAS UNDERMINED THEIR PERFORMANCE AND RESULTING IN A GREAT LACK OF CONFIDENCE. AND I GUESS I HAVE TO LOOK BACK TO MY OWN LIFE AND FIND OUT WHERE I GAINED MY LEVEL OF CONFIDENCE AS A DEAF PERSON. YOU KNOW, IT HAPPENED RIGHT IN THIS VERY SPOT, RIGHT ON THIS STAGE. I CAME TO COLLEGE HERE. I'M AN ALUMNUS OF NTID. I CAME HERE, AND THEY KNOW I DIDN'T KNOW MUCH SIGN LANGUAGE, BUT I COMMUNICATED IN ANY WAY THAT I COULD. AND I WAS PUT UNDER THE WING OF THE THEATER DEPARTMENT. AND THE FIRST THING I HAD TO TACKLE WAS A SHAKESPEAREAN PLAY. IT WAS THE TEMPEST. WELL, UNKNOWING WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN, I SAID, "SURE. I'D TAKE IT." [LAUGHTER] I WAS GIVEN THE ROLE OF CALIBAN, WHICH WAS RIGHT FOR ME. THERE'S VERY LITTLE LANGUAGE. IT WAS A DIRTY OLD KIND OF CHARACTER. AND I DIDN'T MIND. I KNEW VERY LITTLE ABOUT THE TRADITIONAL CHARACTERIZATION OF CALIBAN. OF COURSE, THEN THERE'S THE PROBLEM OF LOOKING AT THE ENGLISH PRINTED WORD OF SHAKESPEAREAN LANGUAGE AND TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT TO DO IT INTO TRANSLATION. WELL, I WAS LUCKY. PATRICK GRAYBILL WAS INVOLVED IN THIS PARTICULAR PRODUCTION AND PLAYED THE LEADING ROLE IN "THE TEMPEST." MAN: PROSPERO... WOMAN: THE CHARACTER HE PLAYED WAS PROSPERO. I LEARNED MORE FROM HIM AND MORE FROM THE OTHER COLLABORATORS IN THE PRODUCTION, AND THAT'S WHAT ACTUALLY GAVE MY LEVEL OF CONFIDENCE. I FOUND MY OWN IDENTITY. AND THAT RESULTED IN THE B.A.D.-- [LAUGHTER] THE BORN-AGAIN DEAF. ABSOLUTELY! I'M AS BAD AS THEY COME! BORN-AGAIN DEAF. NOW, YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND. I'M A LITTLE LATE. GOT A BIT OF A LATE START IN TERMS OF LEARNING SIGN LANGUAGE AND KNOWING MY IDENTITY. AND, YOU KNOW, MANY OF US--GOOD 90% OF US-- HAVE HEARING PARENTS, NO LANGUAGE ROLE MODELS. BUT THOSE WHO ARE LEFT TO THE MAINSTREAM SCHOOLS AND THE HEARING SCHOOLS, WE REALLY DON'T HAVE THE ROLE MODELS THAT OTHERS DO AS SCHOOLS FOR THE DEAF. AND TYPICALLY A LOT OF US WHO ARE DEAF AND DON'T HAVE DEAF PARENTS GET A PRETTY LATE START. AND THEY MAY COME TO THE PLACE WHERE I AM-- BEING A BAD! NOW, YOU KNOW, THE DEVELOPMENT OF OUR CONFIDENCE REALLY SHOULD START IN THE EARLIER YEARS IN SCHOOL. WE CERTAINLY SHOULD HAVE ATTAINED A LEVEL OF CONFIDENCE BY THE TIME WE GOT TO HIGH SCHOOL, BUT REMEMBER WHAT ELSE WE'RE DEALING WITH-- PUBERTY, RAGING EMOTIONS, TRYING TO GET THROUGH THOSE YEARS OF ADOLESCENCE. I MEAN, WE'RE DEALING WITH ENOUGH. I MEAN, YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER THOSE YEARS, DON'T YOU? IT'S A TIME OF TURMOIL FOR ALL OF US, CERTAINLY A LOT TO DEAL WITH. AND THEN ON TOP OF IT, TO LOOK FOR YOUR OWN IDENTITY IS QUITE A DEAL TO TAKE ON. MAN: TO TEACH ASL... WOMAN: AHEM. NOW, TO TEACH-- HAD I BEEN TAUGHT AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE LITERATURE AT THAT TIME, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN A VERY DIFFERENT STORY. MAN: IN CHICAGO... WOMAN: IN CHICAGO... MAN: ...OF THEIR CULTURE. WOMAN: A LOT OF US ARE PRODUCT OF OUR CULTURE, AREN'T WE? IN CHICAGO... IF YOU LOOK AT ANY CULTURE, ANY CULTURE HAS PRODUCTS FROM THEIR CULTURE. FOR AFRICANS, FOR EXAMPLE, WHAT ARE THE PRODUCTS OF THEIR CULTURE? THEIR DANCE, CERTAINLY THEIR CLOTHING AND DRESS. WHAT ELSE IS A PRODUCT OF AFRICAN CULTURE? THE DRUMMING, THE MUSIC, THE ARTICLES AND ARTIFACTS THAT THEY TRADE. CERTAINLY THE TRADITION OF STORYTELLING. YES. ETHNIC FOODS AND THE RELIGION, TOO. YOU KNOW, THOSE ARE IDENTIFIABLE...CULTURAL... PRODUCTS...AND CERTAINLY CHARACTERISTICS. BUT YOU KNOW, WE DON'T HAVE THE SAME KIND OF THING. DO WE HAVE SOMETHING CALLED DEAF FOOD? DO WE HAVE SOMETHING CALLED DEAF DANCE? I SUSPECT MAYBE WHAT I DO RIGHT HERE COULD BE. IS THERE A DEAF GOD? MAN: THERE'S A DEAF GOD... WOMAN: AN EARLIER PRESENTER THIS WEEKEND, CHARLES ..., WHO PLAYS THE DEAF GOD, WE SAW HIS PRESENTATION OF IT. BUT I DO THINK THE ONE PRODUCT OF OUR CULTURE CLEARLY IS AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE, AND IT'S RICH. WE'VE SPENT NOTHING BUT THE LAST 2 DAYS TALKING ABOUT HOW MUCH THERE IS IN THAT PARTICULAR PART OF OUR CULTURE IN AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE. AND THE SHARING WE'VE DONE IN THE LAST COUPLE OF DAYS AND WITH EACH OTHER IS ONLY HAVING THE VOLUME OF OUR LITERATURE GROW. HOW MANY OF YOU IN THIS AUDIENCE HERE JUST LOVE TO COOK? WE CAN EXCHANGE RECIPES A LITTLE LATER, MAYBE? AND WHAT WE'LL MAKE TODAY IS SOUP. ARE YOU READY TO MAKE MY SOUP? HERE IT IS. LET ME PRESENT FOR YOU A GREAT BIG POT. AND ANY TIME YOU START WITH A SOUP, YOU START WITH A BASE, AND ANY RECIPE FOR SOUP HAS A GOOD BASE. AND IN THAT BASE WILL BE ALL OF OUR NON-MANUAL BEHAVIORS. CERTAINLY! VERY IMPORTANT PART OF THE SOUP. OUR BODY LANGUAGE... AND GESTURES. NOT SIGNS, SPECIFICALLY. I'M REALLY TALKING ABOUT GESTURES. THE RESULT OF ALL OF THIS THING IS A MORE VISUAL PRODUCT IN THE END... RESULTING IN A CLARITY IN THE WORK. BUT EACH ONE OF THESE INGREDIENTS INTO OUR SOUP, PARTICULARLY IN OUR BASE. THE WAY WE PRODUCE OUR SIGNS IS ALSO A PART OF THIS SOUP. I MEAN, YOU COULDN'T MAKE THE SIGN THE WRONG WAY SO THE PRODUCTION IS EQUALLY IMPORTANT INGREDIENT. AND THE CLASSIFIERS. WE HAVE MORE CLASSIFIERS IN OUR LANGUAGE THAT CAN GIVE COLOR, SOUND, AND ADD IN EVERY KIND OF FLAVOR TO OUR SOUP. [MAN SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY] WOMAN: AHEM. SO WE HAVE A POOL OF CLASSIFIERS. WE'VE GOT TONS OF THEM. WE ADD ALL OF THESE THINGS INTO OUR SOUP. AND WE STIR IT AND LET IT BOIL AND SIMMER, BUT YOU KNOW, YOU DO HAVE TO WAIT. YOU CAN'T DO THIS TOO FAST. YOU KNOW, TAKES A LITTLE PATIENCE AND SOME PRACTICE, BUT IT'S NOT THE EASIEST WORK. AND NOW WE'RE READY FOR THE VEGETABLES IN OUR SOUP. AND THE VEGETABLES [INDISTINCT] ARE VARIED. BUT THE VEGETABLES TO THIS PARTICULAR SOUP ARE ALL THE IDEAS, THE THEMES... AND WE PUT THAT INTO OUR SOUP. NOW OCCASIONALLY WE HAVE TO TASTE IT AND MAKE SURE IT'S GOING THE WAY WE WANT IT TO, AND SPICE IS USUALLY THE NEXT THING TO ADD. NOW, OUR SPICES. WE HAVE MANY CHOICES FOR THIS AS WELL. AND THOSE ARE THE TECHNIQUES THAT WE USE TO DO WHAT WE DO. FOR EXAMPLE, HAND SHAPES... THE ABC STORIES... OUR NUMBER STORIES... AND WHAT YOU SAW IN OUR EARLIER FILM "TRANSFORMATION." LET ME TAKE A MINUTE TO TALK ABOUT "TRANSFORMATION." WHEN A SIGN HAS A SMOOTH TRANSITION INTO A UNIQUELY DIFFERENT SIGN, THAT IS A TRANSFORMATION. FOR EXAMPLE... THERE'S A PARTICULAR STUDENT THAT'S NOT WITH OUR GROUP. THE STUDENT IS KELLY. HE'S GOT SOME IMAGINATION AND SKILLS. HE DOES THIS. IT'S A BEAUTIFUL TRANSFORMATION, IF YOU LOOK AT ONE SIGN THAT GOES INTO A COMPLETELY UNIQUELY DIFFERENT ONE. AND, FOR EXAMPLE... DO YOU REMEMBER YESTERDAY MORNING, WE TALKED ABOUT HOW WE CAN USE JUST ONE HAND? YOU SAW HIS CHARACTERIZATION WHERE HE DID ALL OF HIS STORY WITH JUST ONE HAND. THAT'S THE KIND OF WORK WE SHOULD BE DOING. THAT'S WHAT A TRANSFORMATION IS. AND IN ALL OF THE WORKS THAT WE'VE SEEN THE LAST COUPLE OF DAYS, YOU'LL SEE A LOT OF TRANSFORMATIONS. NOW, SPEED IS ANOTHER INGREDIENT, AND IT DOESN'T ALWAYS MEAN FAST. IT MEANS SLOW. IT GIVES EMPHASIS TO THE PIECE. FOR EXAMPLE... THAT'S NORMAL SPEED, RIGHT? HERE'S SLOW SPEED. SEE? AND THAT PARTICULAR USE OF SPEED--SLOW IN THIS CASE-- GIVES EMPHASIS TO THE WORK. AND SLOWER. [LAUGHTER] [APPLAUSE] AND THE NEXT SPICE. IT HAPPENS ANY TIME THAT DEAF PEOPLE GET TOGETHER, BE IT AT THEIR SCHOOLS OR AT DEAF CLUBS OR WHATEVER, THERE'S ALWAYS ONE PERSON STANDING THERE AND ANOTHER ONE PUTTING THEIR HANDS THROUGH. THAT'S ALSO AN INGREDIENT. NOW, YOU SAW A GROUP OF STUDENTS WORKING TOGETHER. THAT IS ALSO A TECHNIQUE TO USE. AND SOMETHING THAT'S A LITTLE NEWER. I'VE BEEN LOOKING INTO OTHER ART MEDIUM, LIKE DANCE, VISUAL ARTS... THEATER. AND BORROWING FROM DIFFERENT CULTURES, WE SAW A PERFORMANCE FROM ISIAS LAST NIGHT. AND HE BORROWED FROM AFRICAN CULTURE AND PUT IT INTO HIS PIECE. SO AFRICAN CULTURE, AFRICAN DANCE INTO A PIECE ARE ALL TECHNIQUES WE CAN BORROW FROM AND USE. THEY'RE AN IMPORTANT INGREDIENT IN OUR SOUP. AND THERE'S MANY MORE. AND I'M SURE THERE'S SOME WE HAVEN'T EVEN TALKED ABOUT OR DISCOVERED YET. AND WHEN IT'S READY, IT'S DELICIOUS. WE'VE HAD MANY GOOD EXAMPLES OF THIS THROUGH THE LAST COUPLE OF DAYS. WE'VE TASTED THE SOUP OF CLAYTON VALLI OF ELLA MAE LENTZ, OF PATRICK GRAYBILL. AND WE ALL HAVE A LOT MORE TO DO IN TERMS OF CREATING OUR OWN WORKS. AND OUR YOUTH, OUR DEAF YOUTH ARE ALL HUNGRY TO EXPERIMENT AND PLAY AND MAKE THEIR OWN WORKS COME ALIVE. IT MEANS ALL OF US, WHETHER WE WORK IN SCHOOLS OR IN THEATERS, HAVE A LARGE RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE SURE THAT AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE LITERATURE IS PART OF THE CURRICULUM AND PART OF THE WORK THAT WE DO. I MEAN, SURE, THERE'S MATH AND SCIENCE AND THE REGULAR CURRICULUM ITEMS. MAN: PEOPLE SAY THERE'S NOT ENOUGH TIME... WOMAN: AND PEOPLE SAY THAT THERE'S NEVER ENOUGH TIME TO DO THINGS LIKE ASL LITERATURE OR DEAF STUDIES. MAN: IT'S IMPORTANT FOR DEAF TO HAVE SKILLS... WOMAN: IT'S AN IMPORTANT FOR COGNITIVE SKILLS, FOR PROBLEM SOLVING, FOR ALL OF THE SKILLS THAT WE USE IN OUR EVERYDAY LIFE TO HAVE THESE TOOLS IN ORDER TO DO INTERPRETATION, ANALYSIS. TO LEAD DISCUSSIONS, TO BECOME THE LEADERS IN OUR COMMUNITY. WE NEED ALL OF THESE SKILLS. AND EACH OF THESE SKILLS APPLY TO ALL THE OTHER SUBJECTS WE DEAL WITH IN OUR WHOLE LIVES. POETRY... MAN: ...INFUSED IN THE CURRICULUM. WOMAN: NEEDS TO BE INFUSED THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE CURRICULUM IN OUR SCHOOLS. SO MY WORDS DON'T NEED TO BE SAID ANYMORE. I'LL LET MY STUDENTS SHOW YOU THEIR OWN WORKS. THE FILM THAT YOU SAW WAS DONE 3 YEARS AGO. WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO SEE SOON IS MORE RECENT WORK. I WAS AN ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE WITH SOME OF THESE STUDENTS AT THEIR SCHOOLS. WE'VE BEEN WORKING ON THIS FOR ABOUT A YEAR. AND IF I COULD ASK MY STUDENTS TO JOIN ME ON STAGE AT THIS TIME. THE FIRST PIECE IS ENTITLED "1963." MAN: WHOO! [APPLAUSE] "SOLDIER." [APPLAUSE] "HOT SPANISH NIGHT." [APPLAUSE] "MISS AMERICA." [LAUGHTER] [APPLAUSE] THE NEXT PIECE IS ENTITLED "WAR." [APPLAUSE] "THE BOXER." [LAUGHTER] [APPLAUSE] "SLAVES."
Notes: 
"This project is supported by a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The grant program is made possible by funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation."