Deaf Vagina: An all-ASL production of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues.

Theatre eXceptional and Blue Butterfly will have "voice interpreters" on hand for the hearing members of the audience.

click to enlarge Deaf Vagina: An all-ASL production of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues.
By AnonMoos (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons/CC

When I went to St. Petersburg Junior College, I took a part-time job taking notes for deaf students. If you can hear, that seems odd, but think about it: When can't hear, you have to watch an interpreter, so you can't focus on taking notes. 

These students were the funniest, warmest group of people I met in college, but the ignorance of fellow students and, sadly, the adult professors, astounded me. A humanities professor made a derisive comment about a deaf student, then looked at the interpreter, horrified and angry, as she signed the comment.

"You're going to sign that?"

"It's my job to interpret everything that's said in the classroom for them," she responded. 

Memories of this interaction — and hundreds more like them — are why Theatre eXceptional's The Vagina Monologues in ASL. ASL, for anyone who doesn't know, stands for American Sign Language (yes, American — just as different cultures have different language, their sign languages differ, too — there are roughly 300 types of sign language around the globe).

The ASL play — which will have vocal interpreters for those of us who rely on our ears rather than our eyes to watch a play — has two productions this weekend, one in Safety Harbor and one in Palm Harbor. Elizabeth Boni, a USF professor who also happens to be deaf, directs.