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June 1, 2005

Latest Interview Of Trix Bruce

From: Bakari Creative Ventures - Jun 1, 2005

For Immediate Release
Getting to know Patricia "Trix" Bruce

Patricia (Trix) Bruce, from Seattle, Washington, is known nationwide as both a workshop presenter and an ASL performer. Trix's work has been warmly received everywhere, from local community centers, to state, regional and national RID conferences, Deaf Way II, interpreter conventions and more. Wildly popular as a teacher of ASL storytelling and ASL interpretation, Trix impresses audiences at all levels of ASL skill, from novices to fluent experts.

Trix has been profoundly deaf since she was 6 months old. She went through oral, mainstreaming, deaf classes, and online educational programs. Trix has been involved in the performing arts since 1980. After completing her college program, she became involved with interpreter training.

Trix's main area of study has been ASL Linguistics with a focus on ASL Performance. She is an approved sponsor for the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) Certificate Maintenance Program, and has developed a popular website, Whether writing, creating, improvising or starring in her many productions, Trix's passion for the dramatic arts shines through.

When did you know you wanted to be a performer? Was there a specific "ah-hah!" moment where you knew acting was right for you?

When I was in mainstreamed program at high school during my freshman year, a drama teacher was looking for a deaf role for HELEN KELLER so I joined. I loved it and wanted to continue.

After graduating college, I wasn't sure where to start. I happened to be an ASL instructor at a public high school in Washington State. I was required to take a certificate of teaching as per Washington State's school policy, so I went back to school. I evaluated an interpreter for fun. I wrote down the strengths and weakness of her interpreting skills. She realized how much I know the sign language grammar, structure, and rules to expand their signing skills. So I provide workshops for the interpreters. A lot of interpreters encouraged me to become a storyteller!

How did your family and friends react to your choice of careers?

My parents encouraged me to stay in business field. I decided to continue to be involved in drama through the four years of high school and seven years in college. Until I started to train interpreters to expand their signing skills, they have encouraged me to be a storyteller in a one woman show.

What are the biggest obstacles facing a deaf person who aspires to a career in acting?

My biggest obstacle facing a career in acting is that some organizations don't provide enough funds covering my time, my traveling expenses. I hate to say "no" but am willing to take some risks and some small funds.

I have submitted a lot of film's casting calls; however they are not looking for a "deaf" actor that fits their stories. Some directors are willing to make adjustments and place me into their films as an extra, a small role, non-speaking roles, and any characters that are able to use visual gestural, mime, or anything is possible.

Can you describe the process of creating one of your shows? How do you choose and develop your material?

I watched one hearing woman show and realized that I could do it. I decided to write scripts and put this together to use Power Point presentation as my visual aid, open-captioning. I put a few flash poems as my intermissions. I provided several kinds that match the target audience. THE HEARING WORLD AROUND ME is best fit for any hearing people that wanted to learn about the role of Deaf. TALES OF A MAD MAD MAD ASL WORLD is best fit for any signers, interpreters, and Deaf.

What do you hope an audience takes away with them after a performance? Is there an over-arching theme to your work?

My goal is for the audience is to show that a Deaf Role Model can do it. There were few deaf actress/actors; it is time to see more new faces to come!

If you did not create your own material, what other opportunities are there for deaf actors?

There will be always different opportunities for the Deaf actors such as sound effects, communicate methods, Deaf cultures, Child of Deaf Adults (parents), and many more

Have you worked with mixed deaf & hearing casts? What were the biggest challenges? In your opinion, how can hearing and deaf actors and directors' work together most effectively?

Yes, I have been in Deaf Festivals, ASL Festivals. I felt strongly comfortable with drama families, actors because we easily can communicate with each other as a good team. Working with the hearing, it is more challenging but awesome to meet people who could share their experiences and learn from them. The hearing people can see how I can provide the success of being a Deaf Role Model.

In your opinion, what are the qualities of an excellent ASL signer? When does communication become artistry?

I started learning gesture as my first language and took drama classes/clubs four years in high school. This experience brought me up to continue and learn more with Sign Language in College. I incorporated with all of my talents together. I practiced and practiced with ideas of using appropriate sign language. As I improve with audience's desires, I prove to them that I am an artist.

Written on a page, the words are the same. But when performed, spoken English and ASL are expressed differently. Does the method of expression change the meaning of the words?

It is totally different between English and ASL but for the voice interpreting, the voices would be English. It has different syntax, grammar, rules, structure and all of that.

For the hearing, so much is conveyed through tone of voice. For example, the statement "I love you" can be sincere, or sarcastic, or funny, etc. How are these different meanings conveyed using ASL?

There are several ways to use 1) body language 2) hearing language expressions 3) sign language 4) visual-gestural language Hearing would rely on visual gestural and body language. Deaf rely on sign language.

Do deaf and hearing audiences react differently to your performances?

THE HEARING WORLD AROUND ME is the best show for the hearing audiences because I share what it feels like to be deaf.

TALES OF A MAD MAD MAD ASL WORLD is the best show for deaf and hearing audiences because I share various kind of stories such as folktales, poetry, international sign, classifiers, handshapes, personifications, etc.

In your performances of Tales of a Mad, Mad, MAD ASL World, you thrive on audience interaction. How does the interaction occur?

It depends on individuals. A lot of interpreters love the sound effects. Deaf loves the international sign language because it is different and new! Kids love the visual gestural stories.

Kenan Peköz is the voice speaker of your show, The Hearing World Around Me. Can you describe how you and Kenan work together? What makes your partnership work?

He was the one to encourage me to establish one deaf woman show. He helped me to set up the plans of setting up shows, etc. With his experience and his help, he was honored to work with me. For the hearing world show, we rehearsed a lot together. The more he built to be involved, he gained confidence working with me. The audience can hear from his voices explaining the details how I grew up through the years - what is like to be deaf.

Writing this interview, I've been very worried about asking a dumb or offensive question. Do you find that hearing people are intimidated when approaching you?

That is normal, a lot of hearing people would always learn every time they face any Deaf people. Both worlds can make silly mistakes by misunderstanding; they think differently.

What do you love about performing? What keeps you going?

Funny, I have so much to tell the whole world about how much I enjoy performing because it is inspiring, and I gain the hugest opportunities and challenges. Thinking of "can do it" is my destiny. I would encourage the younger generation that whatever I pursue, I can do it. One day, I will be there. One day, they will understand that the real DEAF WORLD can do everything. Anything is possible!

With my effort, my practice, my understanding, my learning, my experience, and my everything on me will make me the "succeed" role by suffering, struggling, and going through the rough times to become a star. To get more shine, I strongly believe I can do it - all I do my best!

This article is courtesy of the
Published June 01, 2005


For more information on Trix Bruce
Amy Bakari
Bakari Creative Ventures