This project documents the process of translating Shakespeare's language, specifically that of Twelfth Night, into American Sign Language, with an emphasis on the history of gesture in visual representations of Shakespeare's plays. It will serve as the 'text' for a full-scale production of Twelfth Night opening in October 2000 at Philadelphia's newly founded Amaryllis Theatre.

American Sign Language (ASL) has often been called "kinetic sculpture," fusing movement and gesture to articulate language in space. With artists and scholars increasingly turning their attention to the representation and translation of gestures, this project joins two distinctly different cultures: the hearing world, with Shakespeare as one of its greatest poets, and the visual/gestural language of the Deaf.

American Sign Language "embodies" Deaf culture and contains a history, a rhetoric, and a poetics all its own. We are bringing Shakespeare into contact with this language, and vice versa, so that both will be illuminated. As a result of this cultural fusion, we hope ASL will become more widely recognized within the canon of scholarly study. In addition, we anticipate that ASL will be acknowledged as a source for rich and creative performance techniques in theater, music, film, and visual representation. Shakespeare, too, will need to be reconsidered in purely visual terms as a newly constructed cultural document among a vast history of interpretations, representations, and performances.

To read an article about the translation process in the Yale Bulletin and Calendar, click on Shakes

Peter Novak (project director) is currently the Dean of Trumbull College at Yale University and a Doctoral Candidate in the Yale School of Drama's department of Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism. He holds an MFA in Acting from the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and an MA in English from Loyola University Chicago. He has reviewed two productions at the National Theater of the Deaf for American Theater magazine and has taught, acted in, and served as dramaturg for many Shakespearean plays. For more information, contact him at
Timothy Barringer (principal investigator) is a specialist in British visual culture of the eighteenth to early twentieth centuries. He studied at the Universities of Cambridge, New York (Institute of Fine Arts) and Sussex, where he completed his PhD dissertation, Representations of Labour in Victorian Visual Culture, in 1993. He has published widely on British art and culture and is author of 'The Cole Family: Painters of the English Landscape', (book and exhibition catalogue, Portsmouth City Art Gallery, 1988), and Reading the Pre-Raphaelites (Yale University Press, 1999).
Adrian Blue (master translator and sign consultant) has been a theater actor, director and consultant for over 15 years. He has performed with the National Theater of the Deaf and has been a consultant throughout the United States on American Sign Language interpretation in the theater, on film, and in television.
Peter Cook (poet and master sign consultant) is a Deaf performing artist whose work incorporates American Sign Language, pantomime, storytelling, acitng, and movement. He has traveled extensively around the country and abroad with Flying Words Project, a non-profit organization to promote ASL literature, founded in 1986 with Kenny Lerner. He has appeared in Live from Off Center's "Words on Mouth" (PBS) and United States of Poetry (PBS) produced by Emmy winner Bob Holman. Peter lives in Chicago and teaches at Columbia College, where he received the 1997 Excellence in Teaching Award. He loves creating stories and playing with his new son.
Sabrina Louise Dennison (performer and translation consultant) most recently performed in the1997 and 1998 seasons of theNewTheatre Festival in Boston where she portrayed Ilene in Olives and Rebecca in Broken Spokes. She trained with the National Theatre of the Deaf. Sabrina currently works as Deaf Coordinator and ASL Instructor with the Portsmouth School District in New Hampshire.

Robert De Mayo (master sign consultant) has been a member of the National Theater of the Deaf, last seen in their national tour of An Italian Straw Hat. No stranger to Shakespeare, Robert was one of the four actors in NTD's production Shakespeare Unmasked. He serves as a sign consultant to various theaters and also performs across Connecticut in AIDS educational programs for high schools.


Frank Dattolo has trained both at the National Theatre of the Deaf (NTD) and in the Theater Department at Gallaudet University. His theater credits for NTD include Dr. Paign in An Italian Straw Hat, First Voice in Under Milk Wood, and Henry Harry in Brilliant Traces. He has produced and directed several plays for NTD's world-wide Deaf Theatre Conferences, and has served as an adviser for theatrical interpretation and translation throughout New York.
Troy Kotsur (performer and translation consultant) has performed in numerous plays, television productions, and films. He was featured on NBC's A Man Called Hawk. Troy regularly performs at the DeafWest Theatre in California, as well as at the National Theatre of the Deaf in Connecticut. He most recently appeared as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet with theDeafWest Theatre and as Treat in Orphans with the Sacramento Theatre Company.
Megan Mangum (project graphic designer) is a special student at Yale University and will be entering the MFA graphic design program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City in the Fall of 1999.
Jackie Roth has played numerous roles in television and theatre, including appearances on Guiding Light, Fame, and the Jefferesons. She also co-hosted a PBS special on the National Theatre for the Deaf (NTD). Ms. Roth received training from NTD at the Eugene O'Neill Center in Connecticut and recently appeared with Deaf West Theatre, in California, in the production of Brialliant Traces (Rosannah DeLuce). Other theatre credits include The Swan (Dora) and Love Letters (Melissa), both at the New York Deaf Theatre. Ms. Roth has also done work in film and commercials.
Catherine Rush (investigator) is a playwright and graduate of Yale University. She continues to act and perform throughout Connecticut. She is currently writing a book on theater festivals around the world.
Denise Hopkins (stage manager) has her MFA in stage management from the Yale School of Drama.
Snacks after a hard day at rehersals