Namibia: Bring on the Clowns and Deaf Stories at the National Theatre in Namibia



Deaf theatre, The Dream Workshop, recently produced two plays in Namibia, in cooperation with the Department of Drama in Windhoek’s Art School and the National Theatre in Namibia. Showing the pieces were a part of ICEIDA´s Sign Language Project in Namibia, but one of the project’s objectives is to raise awareness of the culture and status of the Deaf in the country. For primary school children the play Bring on the Clowns was staged and for adults the piece Deaf Stories. Both of the performances were very well accepted.

“We simply did not know what to expect from unfamiliar students in an unfamiliar country with no experience with Deaf theatre so we had reasonable expectations in the beginning,” says Elsa Björnsdóttir who directed the plays along with Jan Fiurasek and Margrét Pálsdóttir. “However, the results were surprising because who would have thought that 2,700 children would be screaming with joy and empathy while watching Bring on the Clowns, or that people would simply be breaking into tears, laughing and enjoying themselves watching Deaf Stories. People came to us after the show and praised it and believed they now understood Deaf culture so much better.

According to Davíð Bjarnason, Project Manager, the main objective of this work from ICEIDA´s point is to enhance the capacity of the Deaf to build up their own culture and share it and at the same time to raise awareness of Deaf culture and the status of deaf people in Namibia. “That way, the idea was to give the audience an insight into the world and culture of the deaf and promote the relations between the hearing and the Deaf by connecting Sign Language and spoken language on the stage. The Icelandic theatre people together with Árný Guðmundsdóttir interpreter, worked for three weeks with nine hearing and eight deaf actors. It was a great success and the seeds they planted will keep on sprouting.”