Last weekend, the International Youth Arts Festival in Kingston featured the Solar Bear, the Deaf Youth Theatre from Scotland and we thought it was great! The Birthday of The Infanta is a story of one sad princess, one pompous party and one broken heart. This creative performance by young and talented deaf and hearing actors is based on a short story by Oscar Wilde. It was princess Infanta’s birthday and everybody gathered in the palace to give her presents and amuse her with tricks and shows. Nevertheless, she could not find entertainment neither in bullfighters nor dancers’s performances. Her uncle devoted himself to keep the bored princess entertained, so he travelled the world to find something to surprise her. On his way he met a wild boy, who could do an impressive choreography of jumps. He invited him to the palace and Infanta was finally happy! The boy had fallen in love with her but when he saw a reflection of his face in the mirror for the first time, he was in great sorrow as he thought princess could never love him and his heart broke.
The performance was a mixture of pantomime, spoken word and sign language with live music – romantic singing and Spanish-influenced rhythms and vibrations that were accessible to a deaf audience. The authenticity of young actors and stirring sounds created a truly charming, magical and beautiful atmosphere, full of invisible butterflies and hand-shaped birds. The audience was drifting with the actors from the princess’ s palace to the wild forests and deep waters to finally confront the reality.
The lack of the happy ending is like an alert that reminds us how important it is for every young person to be accepted just as they are and that rejection essentially damages a persons perception of their identity. We think that sign language is not only a great language but it is art in motion as it takes meaning and visual form. This is a great way to support both deaf and hearing teenagers to explore and learn from each other and continue to raise awareness on the #deafexperience.