Mac Invites Deaf Community to Production of Godspell

By Jeremy Coumbes on February 20, 2020 at 9:04am

MacMurray College is inviting area residents who are deaf and hard of hearing to attend the upcoming production of a classic musical.

The MacMurray theater guild will be welcoming the college’s American Sign Language studies students as members of the cast for a short run of the musical Godspell, as they incorporate shadow interpreting to the performance.

In most theatrical performances, if a sign language interpreter is included, they are stationed at one side of the stage, forcing those who are deaf or hard of hearing to have to choose between paying attention to the action on the stage, or following the dialogue by watching the interpreter.

Christine Smith, Director of Performing Arts at MacMurray says that this show is a unique take on Godspell, with the interpreters immersed in the performance.

A lot of times when there are interpreters, they are in a stationary place, and these interpreters are blocked in, or staged in to the scenes so they are up with the performers for 100% of the show. But they are not always on the heels of the person who is acting. They are in a place where maybe they are interpreting for more than one person, so they kind of stand between the two people, or maybe they are behind them in some way.

Smith says that it has been a welcome challenge to incorporate the ASL students as part of the working cast in the production.

We have a great ASL program here at MacMurray College as many people know. It’s really an amazing experience for the kids to do this. It really throws them into the fire of interpreting pretty fast. So it has taken a lot more planning and staging considerations than in other shows. How to make those interpreters seen all the time.

We have three student interpreters so one girl in interpreting for Jesus the whole time, and the other two are interpreting for various cast members throughout the show.”

She says that even for someone who has seen the musical Godspell before, this will be a different version and a different experience.

I just think that ASL is a beautiful art form and we don’t see it often enough outside of that community, so I like to bring awareness to people who are hearing as well, that this is really a beautiful form, and it is definitely something that is provided to our deaf and hearing impaired community”

MacMurray’s production of “Godspell” will run the last weekend of the month with evening performances on Friday February 28th and Saturday the 29th at 7 p.m. And an afternoon performance on Sunday March 1st at 2 p.m.

The production will be housed at the Marian Chase Schaeffer Theatre in the Jenkins Education Complex on the campus of MacMurray College.

General admission is $5 per person at the door. MacMurray students, faculty and staff are free. Seating is limited for each performance.

For reservations, call 217-204-1968 or by email at