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Arts & Culture

Playhouse Production Questions Ties That Bind

The new production at the Playhouse's Cellar Theater is called Tribes, and it details the often unseen and surprising nature of the ties that bind family communication together. Here's the play's Director John O'Neil talking about that family.

"One of the children, the youngest, is a young man who happens to be deaf. And he is an expert lip reader" O'Neil explained. "And he meets a young woman who is going deaf, and she teaches him sign language.  And the family resents the sign language and Billy changing his style of communication." 

How we communicate is at the heart of this play. O'Neil says it's also what makes Tribes challenging to direct.

"First of all the entire cast uses British accents."

And that's not all. A wide range of communications are a real part of the play.

"Not only spoken language and sign language, but foreign language, profanity, slang, computers, radio, television, opera, anything you can imagine which is a form of communications is dissected and discussed."

I asked if some of the cast had to learn some signing for the production. 

"Yes, two of our actors--Mark McCarver and McKenna Liesman, who play the young deaf son and the girlfriend, they spent 7 hours a week outside of our rehearsal, with Robert Cardoza, who is wonderful. He works in the sign language department at San Antonio College."

Tribes is a thoughtful, intense, adult production.

"I think the play suggests that possibly those of us who use spoken language might be the ones that have to open our eyes and accept other forms of communication."

Tribes opens Friday for three weekends, including a Sunday matinee.

Find more on Tribes here.

Find more on the Playhouse here.