This weekend I saw two plays, Frost/Nixon at the Kennedy Center and Fences at Gallaudet’s Elstad Auditorium.
Frost/Nixon was a one-note play. It chronicled how David Frost, a lightweight talk-show host, got Nixon to confess to wrongdoing in a TV interview three years after he resigned. (Yes, this actually happened.) The play was an obvious fantasy of Bush someday doing the same and letting the country have some kind of catharsis and closure. I’m not holding my breath.
But seeing Fences, in American Sign Language — now that was an amazing experience. It followed the travails of a black family in the late 1950s as they struggled with racism, money, and infidelity. The actors were first-rate, and in ASL, the dialogue seemed filled with lightning. It had that extraordinary combination of motion and meaning. It was dazzling to watch. Now that I’ve seen it in ASL, I can’t help feeling that the play would seem tepid and one-dimensional in the original English. To talk only with your mouth!
I’m grateful to the director, Ethan Sinnott, and the lead actors, Rian Gayle, April Jackson, and Daniel Ilaire, for bringing us that gift. It made me feel privileged to have a life where I get to see such things.