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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Deaf-blind theater troupe touches audiences

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Though they cannot hear or speak, the Israeli actors in Nalaga'at stage full-length, professional performances -- the only shows like this in the world.

These actors can't see or hear. Nevertheless, their unique theatrical presentation captivates audiences by blending touch, mime, sign language and music in a show about dreams and disability.

"It's everything good theater actually is and should be and so seldom is nowadays," says Adina Tal, director of Nalaga'at Center (, an Israeli troupe made up of 11 deaf and blind actors from Tel Aviv-Jaffa. In Hebrew, na lagaat means "please touch."

The only deaf and blind theater troupe in the world, Nalaga'at has also performed in North America and Europe. There are two full-length shows in the repertoire. The actors learn their parts slowly, each paired with a translator who signs instructions into the palms of their hands.

"It really, really changed my life being here at Nalaga'at," says actress Batsheva Ravenseri through interpreter Feige Swirsky. "I got in touch with a lot of interpreters, who support us, and they love us and we love each other."