Saturday, April 26, 2014

SJALUSI / JEALOUSY Deaf West Preents Norwegians!

We, here in the U.S., tend to be pretty regional and seldom global in our assessment of art.  We are also insular in other cultural arenas and when we step out of our comfort zone, we have opportunities to learn new things.  Most of us resist.  What happened last night at “(Inside) the Ford” where Deaf West Theatre Company sponsors Norwegian  Teater Manu's production of the full length one act, “Jealousy,” was a welcome culture shock . It is a double whammy.  First, on climbing the Cardiac Steps from the parking lot, I was aware of how quiet the evening was.  Rain was on the way.  I encountered two men who were, evidently, part of our local deaf community who seemed extraordinarily happy.  They pleasantly refreshed my memory about basic sign language for Thank You, You’re Welcome and Yes. 

Arriving at the patio, the familiar murmur of chatting was absent.  Friends were silently greeting one another and hugging and gesturing like anything.  It was just really quiet.

On arrival at the ticket counter, the attractive young woman who was in charge was completely deaf and my newly refreshed Thank you, You’re Welcome and Yes were not much help.  Thanks to a hearing interpreter, an attractive, happy young woman, tickets were obtained.  The house opened.  Again, the silence in the audience was profound.  Friends were still chatting and greeting one another, but it was just really quiet. 

The silence in the audience set the tone, as verbal reactions to the play were seldom happening.   The laughs were mostly silent. The cultural connection, not only to the deaf community, but then, to the performance by deaf Norwegian actors provides for new and interesting ways to enjoy theatre.    

Norway’s Teater Manu’s presentation of  SJALUSI (“Jealousy”) by Esther Vilar and directed by Magne Olav Aarsand Brevik, is, at once, slightly confusing and certainly dark and funny.  Olgeir J. Hartvedt’s spare set featuring Agata Wisny’s moving video projections advance the story via email and exposition while actors Mira Zukermann (the older woman) and Ipek D. Mehlum (the younger woman) and Anne-Line Kirste (the really younger woman) and Olgeir J. Hartvedt (I am almost sure he was the husband. He's mostly incidental) fill the stage with broad gestures accompanied by body language that brings the story to life. Kierste Fjeldstad provides a unique spoken English translation that is sometimes a bit difficult to understand. However, for the hearing audience it helped bring clarity to the hand signed presentation of the story.  Projected subtitles as used in foreign films might have been helpful. 

Extremely presentational, the characters’ rants supplemented by informative projections tell the story of an older woman losing her husband to a younger woman whom he has met in an elevator. She, in turn is supplanted by a younger yogi hottie who winds up with the husband.

Suffice it to say that Norway’s Teater Manu has created a successful way to share Norwegian theatre by and for the deaf in an artful and interesting way. The actors bring new perspective to what the creative presentation of a play is all about.

By Esther Vilar
(Inside) the Ford
2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East
Hollywood 90068
April 24 through May 4, 2014
Thursday – Sunday 8PM
Matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2PM
Tickets and Information
818 762 2998

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