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March 27, 2004

Deaf students bring fable to stage

From: The Argus - Fremont,CA,USA - Mar 27, 2004

Fremont school hosts 'Beauty and the Beast'


Saturday, March 27, 2004 - FREMONT -- High school students from California School for the Deaf today will retell -- in sign language -- the 18th century French fable "Beauty and the Beast."

Adapted and directed by New York-based Raymond Luczak, the play recounts how an angry enchantress curses Fremont's royal family with a monstrous firstborn. Only true love can break the curse.

Years later, Prince Pierre -- an ugly, angry beast -- falls in love with local beauty Bella. As the plot unfolds, the protagonist changes from bitter to peaceful, hateful to loving.

This age-old tale has been adapted countless times to film and stage. But Luczak wrote his own version because he was not satisfied with the three scripts he initially considered, he said.

"I didn't like any of them, mainly because I didn't want a static play," he said. "I wanted a script with action, movement, drama, passion."

Luczak added several new dimensions to the original story. For comic relief, he added the character "Bony the Pony," a lazy horse with an enormous posterior. He also included "little touches" that connect specifically with the deaf and blind community, he said.

Even so, the play is not dedicated specifically to the experiences of deaf people, Luczak said. Instead, it addresses universal issues of acceptance and forgiveness.

"How many of us have felt unwanted and not accepted?" Luczak asked in a press release from the California School for the Deaf. "When the beast hurts, we all hurt. It is hard to forget such pain, but that is the story's enduring power."

Student actors agreed that participating in the show has been a valuable experience.

Justin Jackerson, a junior who plays Prince Pierre, said he has really enjoyed the play. "I got a lot of experience," he said. He plans to continue acting.

Kayce Quatermass, who plays Bella's snobby sister Villanella, said that at first she couldn't relate to her character. "I had to get to know that person and what the lines were telling me," she said. In the process, her acting skills improved, she said. Quatermass also hopes to continue acting at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

Viewers can expect "a fun show," Luczak said. "Whether they know sign language or not, they will enjoy it."

As of Friday evening, the only tickets still available were for the 2 p.m. performance today. The performance will be voice-interpreted.

©2004 by MediaNews Group, Inc. and ANG Newspapers