Nalaga’at Theater was established in 2002 by Adina Tal and Eran Gur, aiming to integrate deaf-blind people in the society, promote their needs and aspirations and to give them an opportunity for self-expression and realization of their most fundamental right – to contribute to society. Since its opening, Nalaga’at Theater is providing an artistic and social experience that changes perceptions and connects different communities and sectors without distinction of religion, race or cultural background. Nalaga’at Theater invites the public to meet people who are deaf-blind, creative, independent and full of joy that are happy to give the seeing-hearing audience a wonderful gift – the gift of art.
The theater’s first show, “Light is Heard in Zig Zag”, was performing in Israel and around the world, and was hailed by critics and viewers. The second production, “Not by Bread Alone” is still performing today at the Nalaga’at Center in Jaffa Port.
Over the years, Nalaga’at Theater has also produced a successful children play called “Price Rooster“, and an engaging sign language workshop for the whole family called “Give me a Sign”.
In 2015, Nalaga’at Theater has premiered two new shows featuring deaf-blind actors – “Say Orange”, a journey to the world of Bat Sheva Ravanseri – a deaf-blind actress, and “Through the Spirit”, a show which involves sign language with visual theater and circus art featuring 7 deaf-blind actors along with seeing-hearing actors and interpreters.
The theater ensembles of Nalaga’at are composed of 18 deaf-blind actors. Some of the actors are completely deaf-blind, some have remains of vision or residual hearing. All actors have personal interpreters of sign language by touch, who accompany them during rehearsals and performances. Most of the actors have “Usher Syndrome” – a genetic syndrome in which the person is born deaf or with hearing impairment, and develops during adolescence to Retinitis Pigmentosa eye disease, leading to visual impairments and blindness.
Ongoing employment of the actors strengthens their self confidence, improve their interpersonal communication ability, reduce their social isolation and allows meetings with the seeing and hearing audience and with people with the same and different disabilities. Most of the deaf-blind people can communicate only with a person who knows to sign language by touch or to use the “glove” system (every joint on the palm of the hand is a letter in Hebrew that you can type on). Communication between the deaf-blind actors at Nalaga’at has developed in many ways, as every person in the group has different needs and abilities.
Our Theater Language
Over the years, we looked for new ways to communicate as a group and ensemble of actors. Sign language interpreters have had drama workshops in the dark to help them understand better the daily life of the actors. During the show “Not by Bread Alone” a drum beat is heard on stage which announces the beginning of every scene. The actors cannot hear the beat nor see the drum, but they learned to sense and feel its vibration. This capability is the outcome of a long and complex work process in which the actors have learned to feel the vibration of rhythm as it moves through the air. This is an example of a new method of communication that was developed at Nalaga’at Center.
Adina Tal made Aliyah to Israel at the age of 20 from Switzerland and worked in the field of theater for many years as Director and Actress. Together with the ensemble of deaf-blind actors, Adina Tal developed the first production “Light is Heard in Zig Zag”, and later on the show “Not by Bread Alone” and the children’s play “Prince Rooster”. Nalaga’at is creating a constant search of new ways of communication between the actors themselves and between the actors and the audience.