“The Black Drum”
“The Black Drum” is a signed music musical play. Their sign for “signed music” is (shows sign). This play is in Toronto, Canada. “The Black Drum” had their opening night on June 20th. This is a Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf production that is supported by the Soulpepper Theatre Company. Here is their trailer:
The playwright is Adam Pottle. It was directed by Mira Zuckermann, known for directing her latest play “Crying Hands.”
The story talks about a young woman whose tattoos come alive and goes on a journey to find her inner music.
Dawn Jani Birley, the main character, along with Yan Liu, Bob Hiltermann, and Daniel Durant are in it.
Andres “Flash” Otalora attended “The Black Drum” last Saturday and captured moments to share with us.
(Video clips of Toronto cityspace, theatre, audience members walking about, and interviews with director/cast)
MIRA ZUCKERMANN: We came up with the name “Black Drum” because when they were writing down their ideas, I wanted to “dissect open their heads” and see what they were thinking.
We will all always have this black heart. We’ll always have it and it’ll never change. Some people have a big heart and others small. We’re all different. It's sad whenever we fight, whenever there’s jealousy and the kind. The Black Drum describes these things. This show places a really big emphasis on what goes on inside us.
DAWN JANI BIRLEY: The director and the ASL consultant urged me to focus on how I express myself in music. They both challenged me by asking me if there was a world with no hearing people then how would we, as deaf people, express our music?
That made me think and they’re right because, throughout my career, I’d been following hearing people’s definition of music up until this show. That was when I learned out that the definition of music really depends on your culture, the people, their languages and more. The Greek work ‘musica’, created way back then, wasn’t meant to be related to hearing. It’s actually meant for the eyes. The concept has evolved over time to focus on the hearing. Deaf people are bringing back its original definition.
CORINNA DEN DEKKER: When it came to music, it never felt that important to me and it’s reserved for the hearing world, but then the “Black Drum” was produced. It really does have that in signed music. The music is seen through Deaf people’s eyes, through their emotions, their rhythms and how we see it in sign language. That’s rhythm. Whenever there are people walking past, our eyes move accordingly when we gaze at them. That’s rhythm. It does have that Deaf element to it and we’re showing that. Growing up, I adopted the thinking that it was a hearing thing and couldn’t be a Deaf thing. But now I understand that Deaf people can enjoy it in signed music. It’s really impacted me.
NATASHA “COURAGE” BACCHUS: This is funny to me. Growing up in a hearing world, my mother who was a committed musician like her family, would do a lot of bass. That word didn’t have much meaning to me, but it’s like Reggae which is one of my most favorite! The Deaf music is really loud! It has rhythm, but the sounds are really loud, and they create these vibrations. It’s cool how there’s a beat every time they sign. I can feel it, it’s fun and I really like it!
DANIEL DURANT: What makes this different from all I’ve experienced as a professional in theater, this “Black Drum” production s different because of signed music. While we typically follow the script, we instead created our own music!
And this is a strong production team of deaf people working together. Back then, we’d have groups working above or below each other, but now it’s an all Deaf operated partnership.
YAN LIU: I’m in the cast and the crew. A mixture of both. The production team was the most diverse I’d ever seen and that I’ve worked with! It wasn’t just limited to Deaf and hearing people. It was a wide variety of representation including those between age 7 through those in their 60s. They had different backgrounds, came from different countries and they used different sign languages. Some of them had declining hearing, could sign somewhat all the way to those who were native ASL users.
AGATA WISNY: This is such a good team of people from different cultures that’s been working together! I’ve learned quite a lot myself!
Renca: Thank you, Otalora, for sending in the video.
“The Black Drum” will continue giving performances until June 29th in Toronto, then will move to Reims, France for the Clin d’ Oeil festival that will happen from July 4th to 7th.
Clin d’ Oeil link: https://www.clin-doeil.eu/en-gb/home
The Black Drum tickets and information