Dr. Dolittle

May 9, 2009 • alan


Saturday was just packed with activities, but Sydney and I managed to sneak away for an hour to see a performance of Dr. Dolittle at Bond Park in Cary.

This is what their promotional teaser had to say.

Dr. Dolittle is being presented by Sign Stage on Tour, a specialist in Sign Language Theatre in which deaf and hearing actors perform together on stage. Whenever a character speaks, the character speaking uses Sign Language and the audience also hears the voice. The voice comes from a different actor speaking through a microphone, sometimes on-stage and sometimes off-stage. Visually, the stage is filled with the movement of hands and bodies yet every word is spoken to make sure all audience members, both deaf and hearing, don’t miss a thing. It’s a magical blend of language created when performing a play simultaneously in spoken English and in the spatial beauty of American Sign Language.

Dr. Dolittle features the good doctor who gives up treating people, after Polynesia, his parrot, teaches him animal languages. He already knew sign language. His fame in the animal kingdom quickly spreads throughout the world. Using all of his language skills, he sets off to cure a monkey epidemic in Africa, finding all sorts of adventures on the way.

The best part of the performance, by far, was the way that the lines were delivered in sign language by the actor in focus, while being spoken by another actor. It took me a while to realize that the audio was live, and not a recording. At times, you could see one actor delivering his own lines in sign language, and then his partner’s lines by voice.

All of this was accomplished by a team of four very talented individuals, who endured the 90° NC heat to entertain and educate us for an hour.