falling in love with silence

Falling in Love with Silence is a story that was envisioned more than two years ago by Kennedy Moore. It was not until the summer of 2018 when she collaborated with her friend and playwright, Bryanna Ruesche, that her vision became more than just characters and a story in her mind. It also was the culmination of Moore’s and Ruesche’s collective goal of “bringing the local hearing and deaf communities together through theatrical performance.” On Thursday, May 30, Enlightening the Dark (ETD) premieres Falling in Love with Silence in Jackson, Tennessee.

Falling in Love with Silence tells the story of four teenagers – Alexander, Nikki, Lukas and Luna – who struggle with real-world conflict, pain and growth. They learn to not only embrace and overcome their own insecurities, but also to love the imperfections in each other.” ~ ETD

The cast includes 15 middle school and high school homeschool students and two adults. They take audience members through storylines that touch on mature topics, with a performance that combines voice and sign language.

“It is a play that confronts topics that not many talk about and people need to be able to voice,” said Ruesche. “Some of the topics are depression, suicide, bullying and parental neglect. Through the play is a healthy and safe way to do that.”

Although the cast largely includes teenagers, the stories they share will not be “watered down” like many youth productions. Despite the deep topics, Moore and Ruesche agree the play is a “balance of light-hearted humor and dramatic moments that lead to a meaningful and inspirational ending.” Ruesche believes the audience will be surprised and impressed by the performances of the students in the cast.

“I think they (the audience) are going to be blown away by the excellence in which our teenagers put on this show,” said Ruesche whose excitement could be heard in her voice. “They have been held to a high standard and have gone above and beyond that standard.”

The background of many of the cast members include community theatre and others who just enjoy performing at home for family and friends in their living room. Until participating in ETD, none had any raw theatrical experience. Over the past year in the program, the actors have learned the art of theatre performance as well as sign language.

Plays are typically all voice or, if included, have only snippets of sign language. An opportunity for deaf people to experience live theatre does not happen often. Storylines in theatre and other mediums rarely have deaf characters as supporting or main protagonists.

“There are a few plays/musicals that have been on Broadway recently that are not about deaf characters, but they incorporate some sign language,” said Ruesche. “Aside from that, I have not come across anything that has a storyline about the deaf community or is presented for the deaf community.”

Falling in Love with Silence is unique in that it is inclusive of all audiences – hearing, hard of hearing and deaf. The play is about 50 percent voice and 50 percent sign, so subtitles will be shown on a screen allowing all audience members to understand everything that is happening on stage and the interaction between the characters.

“Our subtitles are not just for the benefit of deaf people in the audience. It is also for the benefit of hearing people in the audience,” agreed Moore and Ruesche.

Subtitles in live theatre are uncommon and something you rarely see in Jackson area theatre. Without subtitles or someone translating in sign, deaf people often miss out on the enjoyment of certain entertainment. Ruesche noted that some movie theaters do present shows with subtitles, but it is usually during odd hours of the day, which is not convenient for many people.

“Deaf individuals typically have to wait until a movie comes out on DVD or Blu-ray to be able to watch it with subtitles,” said Reushe. “Now, deaf people do not have to wait.”

This production is more than just a play for Moore and Ruesche. It is an outreach to the deaf community here in Jackson. Both women hope to be able to support that community through the performance and ministry efforts of ETD and the money it raises.

Teaching the American Sign Language (ASL) to her students has not only resulted in Moore closing the communication gap between deaf and hearing people, but has created a new form of theatre performance for all to enjoy in Jackson.

“Seeing my students read the script and watching them learn their lines, connect with their characters and bringing them to life gives me so much joy,” said Moore who is looking forward to opening night.

Both Moore and Ruesche hope Falling in Love with Silence will raise awareness regarding the issues presented in the play and bring encouragement to people who have stories of their own to tell.

Falling in Love with Silence will be presented at HomeLife Academy {3563 North Highland Avenue, Jackson 38305} on Thursday and Friday, May 30 and 31, at 6:30 p.m., on Saturday, June 1, at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 2, at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are available online for $8 and at the door for $10. The perf

Learn more about Falling in Love with Silence.

Disclaimer: Falling in Love with Silence confronts mature topics such as parental neglect, depression and a non-graphic drug associated suicide attempt.

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©2019 HomeLife Academy. Article by Jennifer Smeltser. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the publisher /.