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The High School Play-Goer: Annapolis High School Puts ASL Front and Center

Little Mermaid’s sea creatures sing and sign

       Disney’s The Little Mermaid features a unique element when it opens this weekend at Annapolis High School: American Sign Language.

         A complete, complex language all its own, American Sign Language uses signs — made by moving the hands — along with facial expressions and body posture.

         Playgoers will notice something different right away: Each sea character role is filled by two actors — a singer and a signer. That means close to 100 students perform on stage the weekends of April 6 and April 13.

         “By using ASL as a representation of the undersea language and culture, we give a whole new perspective to what it means to live under the sea,” director Erin Lorenz says. “Ariel has a way of communicating, but no one on land understands it. She has something to offer — if only the land folk would pay attention.”

         The performance is entirely student-led. Every aspect from choreography to set design is created by the high schoolers. “With adult guidance, they have their hands in all parts of production,” says Kim Dixon of Annapolis High School Drama Boosters. 

         “A significant portion of our cast had to learn their lines in two languages — one of which they had never really worked with before,” Lorenz says. “They also needed to grow comfortable with their lines so that they could involve their facial expressions, an essential aspect of communicating in ASL.”

         “It’s incredible how we can throw them giant curveballs and they just go with it,” Lorenz says. 

 

See it Fri. and Sat. April 5-13 at 7pm and Sun. April 7 and 14 at 2pm: www.ahsdramaco.com.