Deaf-Blind Israeli Theater Troupe Performing in Manhattan

January 10, 2013 6:14 pm 2 comments

The Israeli Nalaga'at theater troupe, which consists of all blind and deaf actors, on stage. Photo: Courtesy Nalaga'at Center.

Try to imagine what it’s like to live your life not hearing or seeing. Imagine the difficulties of communicating with the other inhabitants of your world, who all seem to be chattering away and interacting in ways that make little sense to you.

Then, increase your challenge exponentially by landing yourself onstage. As an actor, it’s now your job to communicate with others and inspire in them a deeper understanding of your life and the fundamental human condition that, after all is said (or communicated in some other way) and done, unites us all.

Now you have the makings of high drama.

American audiences will be able to bear witness to what happens next. The Nalaga’at Theater, the only troupe in the world whose actors are deaf and blind, is leaving its comfortable home in the Israeli port of Jaffa to perform Not by Bread Alone at the Skirball Center in Manhattan from Jan. 16 to Feb. 3.

The Nalaga’at Deaf-Blind Acting Ensemble was founded in 2002 by Adina Tal to integrate deaf-blind people into the community, promote their needs and aspirations, and provide them with the opportunity to express themselves in a creative way. A key component of Tal’s vision is giving audiences a wholly unique and powerful theater experience, one that will linger in their consciousness long after the curtain falls.

Described as “a magical journey that spans various stories, dreams and locations,” Not By Bread Alone features 11 deaf and blind actors. It has been performed not only in Israel, but also in South Korea and London, where one reviewer called it “a test of theater itself, the way good work can communicate across the boundaries of darkness and silence” (Lyn Gardner, The Guardian). This will also be the Nalaga’at’s third visit to New York, the last one coming in 2005.

During the course of the show, audiences should not be surprised to occasionally hear the beat of a drum on stage. Through its vibration, this cue announces the start of a new scene to actors who can neither see nor hear the drum.

This kind of deepening awareness about the creative force of sensory adaptation will also go well beyond what transpires onstage. On tap for the public will be replicas of Nalaga’at’s two Jaffa eateries, which will be open both before and after the show. At Kapish Café, all waiters are deaf and communicate with the guests in sign language, teaching them a different form of communication. At the BlackOut, guests dine in absolute darkness, and blind waiters serve as their guides.

The object of both the play and the dining experiences is to create a powerful and visceral understanding of what it’s like to live one’s entire life without two of our most important senses, says Tal, who continues to guide the troupe as the Nalaga’at Center’s Artistic Director and its CEO.

“And what excites me most about the upcoming production in New York is, each time another person sees the amazing things our actors accomplish onstage, our dream becomes more of a reality,” Tal says. “As we reach new audiences, and as they open their minds and hearts to another way of living, more and more people from all over the world are making it their dream as well.”

In addition, the Skirball will host a festive Gala Night as an awareness- and fund-raiser for the not-for-profit Nalaga’at Center on Jan. 23. During that evening, the performance will be followed by a cocktail reception.

Not by Bread Alone will be performed daily Jan. 16-Feb. 3, except for Fridays and Mondays. To learn more or to buy tickets, visit http://nyuskirball.org/calendar/notbybreadalone or call 212-352-3101 or 866-811-4111. For details about the Jan. 23 Gala, email talia@nalagaat.org.il or call 646-862-1847.

2 Comments

  • robin guttman

    Please let me know if this troupe plans on returning to New York City in 2014. Best of luck!

  • What a spectacular learning experience for the patrons! This troupe exceeds any and every acting expectation anywhere in the world by far. Since I always teach from Helen Keller’s autobiography near the beginning of the semester in my English Composition I classes, I will have need fodder for thought and discussion this February! How exciting!

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Featured Sports World Palestinian Soccer League Withdraws Bid to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Palestinian Soccer League Withdraws Bid to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    The head of Israel’s soccer association called on his Palestinian counterpart to “join forces,” as the Palestinian Football Association withdrew its bid on Friday to have Israel suspended from FIFA. “Let’s leave it to the politicians to do politics,” said Israel Football Association chief Ofer Eini, moments after PFA Chairman Jibril Rajoub announced that his group had withdrawn the proposal. After his remarks, Eini shook hands with the Palestinian soccer chief. Rajoub thanked “those” who convinced him to drop the [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Israeli-American Group Congratulates Cavaliers’ Blatt on Reaching NBA Finals

    Israeli-American Group Congratulates Cavaliers’ Blatt on Reaching NBA Finals

    JNS.org – An organization whose work focuses on the estimated population of 500,000-800,000 Israeli Americans congratulated David Blatt, the Jewish head coach of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Cleveland Cavaliers and a longtime Israel-based coach, for clinching an appearance in the NBA Finals. The Israeli-American Council (IAC), whose stated mission is “to build an active and giving Israeli-American community throughout the United States in order to strengthen the State of Israel, our next generation, and to provide a bridge to [...]

    Read more →
  • Food US & Canada Bacon Flavor Ben & Jerry’s ‘Not Gonna Happen’ Because it Wouldn’t be Kosher

    Bacon Flavor Ben & Jerry’s ‘Not Gonna Happen’ Because it Wouldn’t be Kosher

    Famed ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s will not be introducing a Bacon flavored product to its offerings because the company intends to keep its entire line kosher, Marketing Director Alison Gilbert told AOL’s morning show Rise recently. “It’s kind of funny, a lot of people look for bacon in our ice cream, which is probably not gonna happen because all of our ice cream is kosher,” she said, referring to Jewish dietary restrictions that proscribe the consumption of pig [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports Israeli Judo Team Faces Antisemitic Harassment in Morocco: ‘We Will Murder You’

    Israeli Judo Team Faces Antisemitic Harassment in Morocco: ‘We Will Murder You’

    Israeli athletes at a world Judo championship in Morocco reportedly faced antisemitic slurs during the competition, news site WorldNetDaily reported on Monday. “We will murder you,” and “you’re not wanted here, go home,” were among the vituperative attacks directed at the Israeli Judo Association team, which was in Morocco last week for the World Masters Judo Tournament. According to Haaretz, each Israeli teammate was met with boos and jeers upon entering a fight. Additionally, no Israeli flags were present at [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Pop superstar Lady Gaga on Thursday accepted an award from Jewish human rights group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on behalf of her Born This Way Foundation, which strives to combat bullying among young people. “Your philosophies are so in line with ours,” she said of the ADL upon accepting the Making a Difference Award in a videotaped message, which was shown at a ceremony in New York City. “We want to help young people know that their feelings and who they are on [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    JNS.org – Eighty years young, Leonard Cohen fits many descriptions—singer, songwriter, poet, novelist, monk. From his Jewish upbringing in Canada to the present day, Cohen has always explored his spiritual side. This month, the singer-songwriter released the CD (May 12) and iTunes (on May 8 of this year) formats of his latest album, Can’t Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour, which features live recordings from his world tours in 2012 and 2013. Last year, Cohen’s Popular Problems was voted by Rolling Stone [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    JNS.org – Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) head Sepp Blatter said during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that contrary to Palestinian complaints, Israel has not violated any FIFA statutes and should not be suspended from international soccer’s governing body. “We should not come to one federation saying we will exclude them,” said Blatter, the Jerusalem Post reported. “If the national association is fulfilling its obligations then there is no need to intervene,” he said. “I’m on a [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Middle East Sports Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) said on Tuesday it was “appalled” by a Palestinian Football Association initiative to suspend Israel from FIFA, calling it another “front waged in the context of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign.” “We are appalled at the temerity of the Palestinan Football Association (PFA) demand that FIFA suspend Israel at your forthcoming Congress in Zurich,” wrote the group’s international relations director, Dr. Shimon Samuels, in a letter to FIFA President Joseph [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.