I was born deaf. Auslan is my first language. I have never used speech and very rarely wear hearing aids. I don’t find them helpful. I know how to understand and translate sounds visually.
When I got into high school, I wanted to take dance classes and be part of an ensemble. I’d been dancing from when I was a young girl and had been involved in ensembles before. I knew how to feel music and connect with it. However, teenagers at my school were a bit clicky, and they made it quite tough for me. I retreated and accepted that dancing was not part of my fate.
I found that there was a theatre group at school as well, so I considered participating in that instead. The teacher didn’t sign but he was familiar with deafness and had an understanding. Oh, my skills skyrocketed from being involved in this group! My performance, my stage presence. I was involved in a lot of theatre productions and it made me get rid of my doubts.
There was this one festival in which we were staging a performance. There was no sound at all in this production. It was just music, gestures, and movement. I thought ‘hang on, I’m the only person here who is living without sound’ so I put my hand up and was made responsible for choreographing all the gestures and the mime of the play. I was able to teach the rest of the cast how to contribute in this performance and we ended up winning awards for this production. It was such a successful experience that will stay forever in my mind.
If you have a hearing condition, tinnitus or are profoundly Deaf and you see something, whether it be a performance, a film, or something else you want to try, know that there’s a role for you. And if there’s a character with a hearing condition – it’s yours. It’s your identity and it’s really important that you get involved because that will make a huge difference in the quality of the show and for the audience receipt.