By Stephanie Kaye
With its roots in the deaf community, QuestFest 2010 begins soon, bringing theater without words to audiences in DC and Baltimore.
Director Fred Beam, speaking through interpreter Tony Barraza, is leading students through warm-ups for their show "Seeds." Maddie Osborne is in the production.
"My brother is deaf, and I don't know how to sign really. But he's been involved in this program so I joined this year," says Osborne.
Local and international performers will be presenting works that defy language barriers of any kind.
"I want to use theater to bring people together. I see theater as a celebration," says Tim McCarty, the festival's director.
"In an interpreted performance, a joke will be said on stage, the hearing audience laughs, the interpreters interpret it...and a minute or two later the DEAF audience laughs!" he says.
At QuestFest, says McCarty, everyone laughs at the same time, and the festival's offerings extend beyond the deaf community.
"The Washington-Baltimore area has over one million new immigrants. 36 percent of the population of the District of Columbia has less than a basic understanding of English," he says.
QuestFest 2010 begins Monday and runs through March 14th, with venues throughout DC and Baltimore.