Saturday, August 23, 2008

Peter Cook performs for Gallaudet

While this blog is primarily for adolescent literature which includes Deaf Characters, I like to add topics that may be of interest to young adults in general. As an educator (and a lover of books), I want young people to read; however, I also hope that they attend cultural events that encourage them to play with language. One example is last night's performance by Deaf poet Peter Cook for new students as part of Gallaudet's New Student Orientation. The term poet doesn't do him justice. Cook is a renowned performing artist whose work includes American Sign Language, pantomime, storytelling, acting and movement. With poignant facial expressions, his work hardly needs to be voice interpreted; however, last night's performance included CART allowing new signers to be equally entertained. Without missing a beat, Cook took full advantage of the added medium and even played with the written words as they scrolled across the screen.
This is the fourth time that I have seen Cook perform and each performance includes new surprises. Last night Cook began telling the traditional joke about a Deaf couple who stayed at a hotel. He playfully asked the crowd, "tell me when you've heard this one before". Immediately students knew the story but Cook continued teasing and explained that the husband in the story realized that he had left something in the car and had to go to get it. After retrieving the item, he headed back to his room only to realize that he had forgotten which room was his. Again Cook asked, "Are you sure you've heard this one before?" and then continued that the guy in the story had a bit of an epiphany and went back to car and began honking the horn for a few moments knowing that all the lights would come on in the rooms with hearing people. "Do you know this story?" Cook continued. The students were roaring because they thought they knew the ending... but they didn't. Cook's version ended with a twist along with a warm welcome to the new Class of 2012. You didn't think I was going to give away the ending, did you?
For more information about Peter Cook and to purchase videos, visit the poet's website. Below I added a commercial with Peter Cook that I found on YouTube and below that is a presentation of The Flying Words Project at UCSD. Enjoy!

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