Storytelling and Sign Language

Christina's Capstone Project

Tag: storytelling

Research Journal: Themes and Structure

There are several themes and ideas I hope to address in my play. Depending on the type of information used, these themes may overlap and/or blend together. Some the central ideas include:

  • Education of the Deaf: how do students, teachers, parents, and administrators perceive it? Does it need to be improved or reformed? How and why?
  • Self-Identity vs. Societal Perception in the Deaf Community: What influence does society have on the formation of self-identity in the Deaf Community?
  • Differences between the Deaf and Hearing “worlds”: What cultural differences exist? Are they really so different after all?
  • Motivation: What motivates hearing people to engage with the Deaf community and vice versa?

 

To help keep these themes at the forefront of the writing, I’m going to continue to reflect on the notions of “stories” and “identity,” as well as the interplay between these two things (Thanks, Eakin!). So to that, I hope my final piece answers the following questions:

  • What are stories? Who tells them? Why do they tell them? Does the way/manner (spoken, sung, danced, signed, written, painted, etc.) in which people tell these stories matter and how?
  • Does one’s concept of identity influence the stories they tell? Or does society’s concept of another’s identity influence the stories that one chooses to tell?

 

Structure

Ultimately, the final structure will depend on the information gathered from interviewees and other sources. Hopefully, it will follow the structure below:

structure

Here we have the typical dramatic structure of a play complete with exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. This will work best if the play follows one (perhaps, two) main character and creates an action depicting his journey. This could ultimately work with a Deaf adult character as the “lead” taking the audience through his/her journey in the education system and include scenes of identity conflict and resolution. This “lead” character would recall his/her story told with the various perspectives of his family, friends, audiologists, therapists, community, Deaf community, etc. So far, using this structure would lead to the following scene break down:

  • The audience is introduced to the main character as he/she recalls their story beginning with diagnosis. This section would include information from the young child’s perspective, parents’ response to diagnosis, reactions of family and friends. Additionally, it would include statistical information about Deafness and its culture.
  • Conflict: here the parents and child are faced with a choice—what educational route to the take for their child. ASL? Total communication? Oral only communication? This section will include different viewpoints of how to raise a child with a “disability” (is it considered disabling or different?). Are there more limits or restrictions placed on this child?
  • The education system: In this section, the main character will show the audience his/her journey through the education system. Dialogue and information will include teachers, administrators, parents, peers, and therapists from both the Deaf and hearing community. It will conclude with his/her graduation and pursuance of a career.
  • Self-realization: Here, the main character will begin to fully express his/her self-identity. At this point, the story will continue with more dialogue and monologues from the “lead,” showing his capturing and exposition of his own story.

 

Research Journal: Storytelling

“Storytelling is joke telling. It’s knowing your punchline, your ending, knowing that everything you’re saying, from the first sentence to the last, is leading to a singular goal, and ideally confirming some truth that deepens our understandings of who we are as human beings. We all love stories. We’re born for them. Stories affirm who we are. We all want affirmations that our lives have meaning. And nothing does a greater affirmation than when we connect through stories.”—Andrew Stanton

In this TEDTalk, Andrew Stanton goes on to discuss what makes a great story. There are some obvious things—character development, a strong theme, a promise of outcome. All of these are essential to creating a great story. But he also introduced another suggestion for great narrative by asking, “does it invoke wonder?” Will audiences, readers, and listeners leave with a sense of awe and wonder? These elements of a story are not as simple of beginning, middle, and end. Rather, they need to be embedded into the content and plot of the story.

We need stories. Stories are important. They give us hope and they remind us who we are. They allow us to connect with others in unique and different ways. Stories can provide us with knowledge or teach us a lesson. They can make us laugh or make us cry. But a great story should always leave the audience struck with wonder.