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March 8, 2006

National Theatre Of The Deaf In Need Of Financial Assistance

From: National Theatre of the Deaf (NTD) - Mar 8, 2006

* FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE * Contact: Pamela Holden

Director of Media

National Theatre of the Deaf

Tel: (860) 236-4193 ext. 3015



***West Hartford**, CT.** March 8th, 2006*- The Tony Award-winning, National Theatre of the Deaf (NTD) is facing increasingly significant financial challenges. As a result of legislative changes, world events, and the current financial climate, some crucial sources of revenue that NTD has historically relied upon have dramatically diminished or disappeared completely. The most critical, a yearly federal grant first given to NTD in 1965 from the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare was taken away when the DOE stopped cultural programs for the Deaf.

To continue its success, NTD will need to generate more funds for broadening the awareness, understanding, and appreciation of Deaf culture through the medium of theatre. NTD needs the Deaf community to help us to continue to spread the mission of the National Theatre of the Deaf and to let individuals know that we are still around, still producing shows and touching lives.

The Executive Director, Paul L. Winters, Ph.D., of The National Theatre of the Deaf (NTD) expresses “We need your financial assistance. Connecticut, no the nation, has a national treasure that I am not willing to give up. With support of our Deaf and hearing friends we are confident that the Theatre can and will continue to produce quality theatrical entertainment for another 39 years.”

The idea of NTD began with Dr. Edna Simon Levine, a psychologist working in the area of deafness. She formed the concept of a professional company of Deaf performers in the 1950s. Director, Arthur Penn and Anne Bancroft, leading actress of Broadway’s The Miracle Worker, were approached with the idea and in turn, brought it to their colleague, Broadway set and lighting designer, David Hays. Struck by the beauty and strength of sign language on stage, Mr. Hays persisted in his vision of bringing this powerful form of expression to theatre audiences.

In the spring of 1967, a national television program aired, exploring the experimental idea of NTD. With additional funds from the U.S. Office of Education, NTD embarked on its first national tour from a home base shared with The O’Neil Theatre Center in Waterford, Connecticut.

Since founded in Connecticut in 1967, the National Theatre of the Deaf (NTD) is the oldest continually producing and touring, professional Deaf theatre company in the United States. It was the first theatre company to perform in all 50 states and has toured all seven continents and in 32 countries. NTD’s professional acting company is made up of both Deaf and Hearing Artists working together as an ensemble. The audience sees and hears every word through the NTD’s signature performance style, which combines American Sign Language (ASL) and spoken word.

In addition to being the recipient of the prestigious Tony Award for Theatrical Excellence and receiving a Grammy® Nomination, NTD has long served as artistic ambassador for the United States. It has staged more than 10,000 live performances as part of nearly 100 national and international tours.

The National Theatre of the Deaf has been instrumental in opening up many other worlds for the Deaf. Captioned television, telecommunication devices, sign language interpreters, bi-lingual and bi-cultural education are some of the benefits that have occurred as “fall-out” of the work the National Theatre of the Deaf has done. There have also been two generations of children who have seen company member, Linda Bove on /Sesame Street/. and now a third generation can see the 2004-2005 season cast of the Little Theatre of the Deaf with Big Bird and friends for /Sesame Street/'s 36th season!.

For more nearly four decades, the Tony-Award winning National Theatre of the Deaf has celebrated the artistry of the Deaf. Through its performance and associated education and outreach programs, The National Theatre of the Deaf has illuminated the minds and touched the hearts of more than 3.5 million people.