FACTION OF FOOLS
Astonishingly enough, the Washington, DC metropolitan area has become a theatre hotbed in recent years, with over ninety companies active within a 25-mile radius, creating yet another hotbed of opportunities for theatre students from local colleges and universities. Gallaudet is in position to capitalize on that, which is why we have brought in Faction of Fools (FoF) as the resident company at our program.
We have been asked the same question several times: why is our theatre program, at Gallaudet, the only liberal arts university for Deaf and hard of hearing people, hosting a hearing company, or a company made up of hearing people? The nature of the professional theatre circuit is highly competitive and often ruthless, unsentimental even, and d/Deaf people entering this profession are already at an immediate disadvantage as a multi-minority group. We are a linguistic minority, we are a cultural minority, and we are perceived--rightfully or not--as a group associated with disability.
Our program's partnership with Faction of Fools (website) not only fits within the framework of the philosophy guiding the direction of our program and coincides with the University's emphasis on developing relationships beyond its campus, but it is also a conscious, outside-the-box effort to address the historic, ongoing professional networking difficulties facing d/Deaf people seeking to work in the mainstream theatre circuit. We have been working for some time to put Gallaudet on the map as a bona fide DC theatre destination, too, and by virtue of our partnership with FoF, we are plugged in now--we are quite excited about that.
Faction of Fools, as an organization, had been on a quest for a stable venue prior to its arrival at Gallaudet--a venue stable enough to host at least 16 performances of their productions throughout an average season in order to be eligible for Helen Hayes Awards consideration. To clarify, that would be at least 16 performances per production. FoF productions feature rotating ensembles of local actors who are currently active members at some of the other theatres operating in Washington, DC.
The agreement between FoF and our program stipulates that, in order for FoF to use our space for rehearsals and performances, it must incorporate an average of 1-2 Gallaudet theatre majors/minors in their productions. We are trying to improve the odds for Gallaudet theatre students with a proactive model of career networking within a "safe" environment--if Gallaudet Theatre Major X is in the same FoF production as Artist Y, who is active with 2-3 other DC-area theatres, this potentially improves the odds of Major X finding work with those same theatres.
Additionally, they will provide specialized training workshops to Gallaudet theatre majors/minors in Commedia dell'Arte, breathing techniques, acrobatics, and other skills--a sampling of skills which strengthens our average student's theatre resume prior to graduation. That will be invaluable in such a student's quest for professional work in theatre and/or film, or his/her application to a MFA program anywhere in the United States. Indirectly, those same acquired skills may somehow end up benefiting 21st century Deaf theatre if and/or when the time comes. Once a semester, separate workshops will be offered by FoF to the Gallaudet community.
We will always prioritize mutually beneficial relationships and partnerships that are unambiguous in their practical and professional value to the average Gallaudet theatre student.