by Joanne Weber
A Livestream Event on Zoom (link to be provided)
A live reading with an audience Q&A
Performed by Joanne Weber
April 4 at 2:30pm MST
Joanne Weber is in the throes of writing a play about the Deaf settlers who came from London, UK to farm near the Qu’Appelle Valley near Regina, Saskatchewan. The play is a rollicking history, featuring the bullheaded Jane Groom, who fought with immigration officials to bring out starving and destitute deaf men to the prairies so that they could set up homesteads (on whose land? Ah there’s a catch).
The play features a deaf farmer’s chorus, a Chaplinesque deaf clown, skullduggery among politicians and white Englishmen, tensions growing over the unfulfilled treaty agreements (Treaty 4 Territory), the ever growing respectful connections between First Nations and Deaf settlers who exchange signs with each other, and the influence of the Plains Indian Sign Language on the BSL used by the Deaf Settlers and the growing development of American Sign Language and a final reckoning that leaves Jane Groom shaken to her core.
Joanne has approached a First Nations consultant, Joseph Naytowhow and actor, Errol Kinistino (Corner Gas, North of 60) for support while she is writing this play. Her hope and dream is to bring deaf actors from Deaf Crows Collective and other Canadian deaf theatre companies and First Nations actors situated within their own First Nations theatre companies along with an assortment of white settler actors to produce this work in larger theatre venues. Dan MacDonald, a renowned Canadian playwright has also sunk his stakes into this project as a dramaturg.
Full disclosure. Time lines are often collapsed and events are fictionalized for the sake of a grand story. Joanne wants to thank Greg Desrosiers for his meticulous research and his interviews of the individuals in those farming communities who all learned to sign with the deaf settlers. Indeed, everyone, hearing, deaf, and First Nations signed there. Material from Clifton Carbin’s Deaf Heritage in Canada is used as a source as well for the historical events of Deaf Settlers.
Welcome to Deaf Settlers: Take 1 – This reading will feature a number of selections from the play in progress. See you all there!