This is the first of my Posts-About-Conference, and it is about the first session I attended at conference this year. It was exciting that the very first session I attended had something in it that I knew immediately I would implement in my teaching. It is one of those strategies that I loved so much and can’t figure out how I never thought of it myself before.
The session was called Using American Sign Language as a Teaching Tool for Actors. Special thanks to Elizabeth Cox of Plymoth State University and Susan Lynskey of Georgetown University for bringing this session to conference!
The Use-It-Tomorrow strategy I took home from this session is this: Take novice actors who are learning a monologue and have them learn the signs for the operative words in the monologue that they have selected. Have them explore how performing the monologue with the signs impacts their work. Eventually the teacher may guide the student actors away from the signs themselves but encourage them to maintain the increased physicality, sense of point of view, etc. that naturally results. There are now a number of resources online and elsewhere for hearing actors to learn some ASL– my current personal favorite being an App on my iPod Touch called “iSign.” I know I will be using this in my fall drama classes and I am thinking about ways I can incorporate similar strategies in future rehearsals, particularly when working with actors who need nudging to explore physicality.
Bonus idea I’m stealing from this session: When students struggle with which words are the “operative words”– ask them “Where does your love live?”
Question for the World: Anyone else doing something innovative with American Sign Language in their classroom or rehearsals? Have a favorite (or least favorite) ASL resource? Please share!