Two Pioneering Ct. Deaf Organizations Join Forces

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The National Theatre of the Deaf (NTD) has moved its corporate headquarters to the campus of the American School for the Deaf (ASD) in West Hartford CT on February11, 2004. Leaders of both groups are looking forward to the many collaborative benefits made possible by the move. ASD Executive Director Dr. Harvey J. Corson and his NTD counterpart, Dr. Paul L. Winters, made the joint announcement recently.

Both organizations are pioneers in their related fields. ASD was the first U.S. school for deaf and hard of hearing students when it opened its doors in 1817, while NTD originated the popular art form of Deaf Theatre when it was founded in 1967. NTD productions feature deaf and hearing actors performing in American Sign Language with voicing interpreters, providing a theatre experience fully accessible to all people, deaf and hearing.

"We are looking forward to the opportunities to enrich the lives of our students through partnership with NTD," said Dr. Corson. "Theatre is an excellent art form for experiencing the language and artistry of the deaf community, and having this company on campus will enable ASD to offer the best possible educational and cultural experience."

Dr. Winters was equally enthusiastic. "NTD is most excited about making the move to the ASD campus. The partnership established between ASD and NTD will afford both of us exciting opportunities to explore new joint ventures. Our mutual goals will be to develop innovative programs and, in doing so, create a stronger liaison with Connecticut's deaf community and the deaf community at large. We are most grateful and appreciative of ASD for providing NTD with a new home," he said.

A federal grant in 1965 from the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare provided planning funds. In the spring of 1967, a national television program was aired which explored the experimental idea of NTD. With additional funds from the U.S. Office of Education, NTD's annual Professional Training School began that summer, and the company made its first national tour that fall from a home base it shared with The O'Neil Theatre Center in Waterford, Connecticut. The following year, The Little Theatre of the Deaf, providing theater for young audiences, was created and began touring.

In 36 years, there have been 62 national tours with visitors to all 50 states, 30 international tours and over 7,000 performances, earning NTD its place in theatrical history as the oldest, continually-producing touring theatre company In the United States. NTD has received critical acclaim for its adaptations of classic literature (Chekhov, Voltaire, Homer, Moliere, Ibsen and Puccini) as well as for original works by the Company. NTD has put its signature on such creations as a magical adaptation of Phillip de Broca's film, King of Hearts, and Ophelia. Many well-known deaf performers have performed with the group, including Marlee Matlin, perhaps the most famous deaf actress in the U.S.; internationally-known NTD co-founder Bernard Bragg; Tony Award winner Phyllis Frelich; Ed Waterstreet of DeafWest Theatre; Linda Bove of Sesame Street; and ASD alumnus Gil Eastman, retired professor and chair of the Gallaudet University Theatre Department. NTD has also collaborated with hearing artists such as Chita Rivera, Arvin Brown, Bill Irwin, Peter Sellars, Tetsuko Kuroyangi, the late Colleen Dewhurst and Jason Robards, and Pilobolus Dance Theatre. NTD's teleplay of One More Spring, produced with Connecticut Public Television and The Learning Channel, was nominated for an ACE Award.

NTD productions provide the opportunity for the majority hearing community to be stimulated by the skills and artistry of the minority Deaf community. Presentations by NTD do more than just make theatre accessible to the Deaf. They enable the Deaf to share with hearing members of the audience a cultural and social event. This sharing promotes pride in the culture and artistry of the Deaf. NTD performances expose all audiences to arts and hearing people, in particular, to the expression of artists from a culture most of them have never experienced. The impact of NTD is realized nationwide and around the world through its principal product: theatre. This continues to be our best vehicle for breaking down the stereotypes that exist regarding minorities. For more information about NTD, check the website,

Founded in 1817, the American School for the Deaf is the oldest school for the deaf in America, and is the only school in Connecticut exclusively devoted to the education of deaf and hard of hearing children. The school is located on a 54-acre campus in West Hartford, Conn. A private, non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization, ASD relies on a combination of private and public support to provide comprehensive educational services free of charge to deaf children, youth, adults and their families. The American School for the Deaf was the first school in the United States to employ deaf teachers. It was the first special education school to receive state aid for primary and secondary education, and was also the first to receive federal support. The first deaf superintendent of a school came from ASD's faculty. ASD instituted the first vocational education program for deaf students, and it continues to offer the only rehabilitation program for deaf adults in New England. It also offers one of the few programs for emotionally disturbed deaf children in the U.S. American Sign Language was born at ASD, spreading throughout the United States as early students and teachers-in-training completed their studies and went on to teach at other schools for the deaf.

The American School for the Deaf continues to provide comprehensive education and numerous related services to deaf students and their families from Connecticut, other states, and foreign countries. In recent years, the school has greatly expanded its Outreach and Support Services, bringing specialized expertise to deaf and hard of hearing students and professionals in partnership with local school districts. For more information about ASD check

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