After spending three years in The National Theatre of the Deaf performing plays by hearing authors featuring hearing characters, Willy Conley realized that he wanted to write plays with deaf, hard-of- hearing, and hearing characters created from the Deaf perspective. Vignettes of the Deaf Character and Other Plays presents the result of his desire in twelve masterful plays.
“I write for the eye, always searching for live, mobile, provocative images that would fill and illuminate the entire stage space with the complexities, the pathos, and the humor involved when deaf and hearing cultures merge or collide,” writes Conley in his introduction. His plays depict a wide range of Deaf characters, including two brothers locked in a tragic rivalry familiar to families of all backgrounds; the broadly comedic Deaf Guide and hearing Techie interspersing laughs with cultural lessons in their Museum of Signs for People with Communication Disorders; Everyone searching for her Good Deeds as she faces imminent Death in an updating of the classic morality play, plus many others. These works explore a broad palette of circumstances with and without hearing characters, allowing Deaf characters to interact minus the direct influence that the dominant culture might exert. Vignettes of the Deaf Character and Other Plays presents the drama and passion of a master playwright who, through his perceptions, reveals facets of the Deaf character in all of us.