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VIP, February 1998

Antoinette Abbamonte

H.E.A.R. honors Antoinett Abbamonte as our VIP of the month. We applaud Antoinette's wonderful talents and accomplishments in the arts!

In her own words...

My spirit is pushing me into the world and theatre has been my map and guide. Entering the theatre arts as a young adult, deaf from birth, was the best thing that has ever happened to me. It has encouraged me to explore and accept the many cultures, life-styles and choices in the world. I find an identity as a human being, as well as a deaf woman. I am lead to respect instead of judge;
to trust intuition instead of generalities.

There is an impact that I bring to the mainstream theatre projects that is unique and special. For example, I studied Shakespeare at The American Conservatory Theatre's A.C.T.-Studio in San Francisco, supported by a sign-language interpreter. They and I were delighted to recognize that I was the first deaf student in their history. As I performed and studied these magnificent plays the other students were indirectly lead to also compliment Shakespeare's words with a heightened physical language and they began to speak louder with their eyes. I was also the only deaf actor in a local production of The Shadow Box, playing the role of Agnes. My director, Tom Blank, had never worked with a deaf actor before, but his brave spirit and creative open mind helped mold together a tight deaf and hearing company. He was driven to take risks. That is what theatre is about. The theatre guides us to create new possibilities by asking us to take risks that lead to discovery. I admit that I do have fears that I must continue to overcome. It is difficult to join a world that has the benefit of five senses. Fortunately theatre is not a passive career. Assertiveness gets the actor jobs and makes the characters interesting and urgent. It has taught me to never give up! I have to keep breaking through the barriers that pop up in front of me in this big busy world. I thank God for creating me and giving me the capable mind, heart and body to accomplish the many deeds that I get to do before I die. I find strength whenever I shout "Carpe Diem!" Seize the day, every day. The challenge, however, is obvious. Before, I have worked primarily in the limited parameters of the "theatre of the deaf." Now, as I go to more mainstream auditions I discover that the hearing directors and actors don't know how to work with me. They seem to be shocked. My success is definitely related to overcoming these problems. I yearn to be with focused, disciplined creative artists who will offer me challenges and solutions which will encourage our cultures to work together. We are all on a growth-curve, managing our individual development and achievement. As a young deaf adult, I have a unique position of also watching my culture blossom. As I succeed in the theatre arts I also raise the standards of our culture. My success in this field will carry-over to future generations of deaf people as I bring my work back to The National Theatre of the Deaf, Deaf West and Cleveland Signstage Theatre (professional deaf-theatre formats in America). As an artist I want to hone my skills in using the tools of our craft, as well as broaden my exposure to the diverse styles of theatre history. My goal is to acquire the knowledge to confidently explore the options that are possible in working a piece of theatre from it's creative beginnings to the final performance and beyond. Experience will be the foundation of my future success. My work in the theatre will eventually lead me to union standing, film as well as stage. I'm interests are wide. I want to do innovative work that applies multi-cultural and non-traditional methods. I want to create accessible classics for the deaf and hearing audiences. Of particular importance is to direct and teach people of diverse abilities and cultures to produce extraordinary theatre which combines a high level of excellence with a great depth of meaning. I believe that I will be needed as a trained actor, director and teacher on this planet. I have proven myself that I am capable of doing anything. I am ready for the fearsome challenges of the hard work with an open mind, open arms, and an open heart.

Antoinette Abbamonte recently performed as the Snow Queen at the 450 Geary Theatre production of The Snow Queen, was in A Deaf Family Diary with Signrise Cultural Center, The Shadowbox at Ohlone College and The Glass Menagerie, Counterfeits and a national tour of Children of a Lesser God with Cleveland SignStage Theatre. She is currently directing Institution Blues for Signrise Cultural Center. She has been a Sign-Master for numerous plays including The Marin Shakespeare Festival. Her new video, Sign and ABC's has just been released through Alymer Press. She is currently an instructor at American Conservatory Theatre and has taught at the Deaf Arts Council, Deaf Media, Opera Piccola, and at numerous Deaf schools throughout the United States. She has studied with the National Theatre of the Deaf and American Conservatory Theatre.

SlGN -ABCs features Antoinette Abbamonte, formerly with Cleveland Sign Stage Theatre, and John Kinstler formerly with the National Theatre of the Deaf. Sign and ABCs also has two new Sign Songs. Turner Collins shows viewers how to Sign along to the Alphabet Song, and Ken Lonnquist performs Before the ABCs.

SlGN-ABCs is about the alphabet-the most important tool developed by people. It teaches the written, spoken, and American Sign Language (ASL) alphabets, while offering an introduction to spelling, and teaching the Signs for 88 words. Viewers will learn a new game too- finger spelling.

Research shows Sign benefits hearing kids and kids with developmental disabilities other than deafness. We assume Sign benefits deaf kids. So shouldn't we be exposing all kids to Sign?

Sign and ABCs-First video in the history of the VCR that parents will enjoy doing with kids! When they are done with the video they will have a free game they can do-finger spelling. Music teachers well be in for some surprising dividends from the enhanced beauty of the song's performance that bodily movement provides. This video is 50 minutes long and costs $29.95

Other Videos A vailable from Aylmer Press

SIGN SONGS: John Kinstler Signs the Iyrics of 11 songs
written and performed by Ken Lonnquist. Sign Songs was
named a Notable video by Booklist, a Parents' Choice
Approval, and endorsed by the Coalition for Quality
Children's Video. The Los Angeles Times called it
"thoroughly engaging".

Sign Songs- Fun songs to sign and sing, this 29 minute video teaches hearing kids to sign using music as a teacher. $29.95

BEGINNING READING and SIGN LANGUAGE: Teaches how to Sign, read, print, and pronounce 124 words. Can also be used to practice spelling if you know the Sign alphabet.

And More. For more information write: AYLMER PRESS, Box 2735, Madison, WI 53701

1-888-SIGNIT2 or 608-251-0890


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