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An actor and actress sit with folders on lap reading dramatically using braille. Welcome to the Theater, the Theater of the Absurd

“I always wanted to act,” says Ian Bray. But he never had the courage to try out for productions. It was always something he thought he would do later.

Now Ian is preparing for his 6th Braille Reader’s Theater production at American Printing House. The actors are all blind or visually impaired, and most-read from embossed braille scripts. They use gestures to convey actions but mostly rely on intonation to express their character’s motivations.

“I do more theater, acting, and singing now than I ever would let myself do.”

Ian Bray listens to audio of script during rehearsal.

Ian says it all started when he was approached about his first Braille Reader’s Theater. He’s grateful for the opportunity to act, something that almost slipped by when he developed cataracts.

“I’ve always known I probably wouldn’t leave this world with vision, but I thought it would 50, not 35.”

Ian will play a fireman in The Bald Soprano, by Eugene Ionesco. It’s an unusual piece in a style that emerged after World War II, now known as the “Theater of the Absurd.”

Starting in France, it was a reaction to the idiocy of war: the ceaseless deaths, destructions, disruptions, hopelessness. If life is devoid of purpose or meaning, if what happens just happens, what use are our pitiful attempts at communication?

“I play a fireman,” says Ian. “I’m a bit of a community figure, but I have my quirks and I’m a bit of a smart aleck. My character likes to tell stories that make absolutely no sense.”

The play will challenge our audience. The plot is bleak. One couple entertains another in their home. There is a maid and, irrationally, a fireman. At first, conversation is stuffy and rather formal, but quickly turns into a mishmash of contradictions and absurdly hasty changes of mood. Logical construction and argument give way to peculiar and illogical speech, little more than noise. All communication is lost. There is silence. And then it begins again.

A man's hands run over braille.

Ian may be a bit biased, but he’s confident the audience will fall in love with the quirky show. “We have never had a bad production. We have so much fun. Everyone who comes to see us comes because they enjoy what we do, but they also enjoy seeing us have as much fun as we do.”

 

UPDATE: Our actors and crew have worked hard to be ready for their performances of The Bald Soprano. Given recent updates about COVID-19, we think it is the pragmatic path to postpone the production until we understand the public health implications of public gatherings are better understood. Thank you for your understanding and be on the lookout for future showtimes!

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