IM this article to a friend!

May 5, 2004

Signing on

From: Advertiser, Australia - May 5, 2004


MANY people speak with their hands – but the new Deaf SA Signing Choir members plan to "sing" with theirs.

It is the first time the Deaf Society of SA has put together an adult choir, which will debut at two fundraising performances this weekend.

Australian Theatre of the Deaf also will perform its show Take Two at the fundraisers as part of the High Beam disability arts festival.

The choir will feature four hearing-impaired performers translating lyrics into Auslan – Australian Sign Language – in time with vocals by three hearing singers and a flautist.

Deaf Society accountant Tonia Brooks-Hill – who has studied for three years and performed with gospel choirs – formed the choir with deaf Auslan lecturer Barry Priori.

The seeds of the choir stem back more than a decade, to when Priori led other deaf friends to karaoke nights at the Astor Hotel, using sign language to follow on-screen lyrics.

"Because we knew Barry was experienced in karaoke, we thought he would be a good candidate," Brooks-Hill says. "We wanted to start a deaf choir so we could show hearing people the Auslan language, to get people to understand deaf culture."

Auslan is based on universal gestures rather than English phonetics.

"People say Auslan is beautiful to watch," says Priori. "It's a very visual language. We try to make a picture from the deaf person's mind."

The singers and signers will use karaoke-style subtitles on a television screen to stay in time. Priori and Brooks-Hill will be joined by Auslan performers Tracy Schirripa, Lee Wall and Debra Swann, vocalist sisters Nereeda and Cassie McInnes and flautist Lucinda Morris.

Songs include Kasey Chambers' Million Tears, Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World, and Savage Garden's Truly Madly Deeply.

• Australian Theatre of the Deaf and the Deaf SA Signing Choir perform at the Deaf Society hall, 262 South Tce, at 7.30pm on Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $25 including supper. Book on 8223 3335.

© Advertiser Newspapers Pty Limited