Interview with Shelly Guy on Deaf Theatre Community

This article was original published in Broadway Boxed Up in November 2020. Shelly is a dear friend and beloved teacher who was recently diagnosed with cancer. Please consider donating to her GoFundMe here. Thank you for your consideration.

Originally from Haifa, Israel, Shelly Guy (She/Her/Hers) is fluent in Israeli Sign Language, American Sign Language (ASL), Hebrew, and English. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and a Master’s degree in Deaf Education from the University of Northern Colorado. Shelly’s passion for teaching ASL began at the University of Anchorage in Alaska. After numerous jobs throughout Alaska and Colorado, she decided it was time to pursue her passion in New York. Her goal has been to expand and enrich her approach to teaching ASL and to spread awareness within the hearing community.

Outside of working as an ASL teacher, Shelly has worked as an actor and ASL consultant/producer for numerous theatrical companies and productions. She has served on staff for the New York Deaf Theatre and worked as an actor in collaboration with the New York Deaf Theatre and The Public Theater/Shakespeare in the Park. You may also recognize her from her Digital Ham4Ham collaboration with Hamilton, in which she acted as Alexander Hamilton in the song “Cabinet Battle #2”. She is a creative artist, painter, and proud Aunt.

Q: How did you get involved with Theatre?

A: I have always been interested in theatre, but I never had the courage to join until Shakespeare in the Park. There was an audition and New York Deaf Theatre offered me a cameo role. I joined the staff as an Outreach Community Coordinator. I love working behind the scenes. Someday hopefully, I will be able to perform on stage again in a character role.

Q: What is the New York Deaf Theatre (NYDT)?

A: As a not-for-profit, professional theatre organization, NYDT is the longest running company of its kind in the greater New York City area. It is the oldest deaf theatre company in America.

The company is governed by an active Board of Directors, the majority of whom are Deaf, and large corps of volunteers who help with their energy, donations, and leadership.

The company is looking forward to continuing its mission to provide quality theatre productions, performances, and services to both Deaf and hearing audiences in the years to come.

Q: What has your experience been in the theatre community?

A: I really enjoy being a consultant for shows. My most natural language is sign language. You can express so much with simply one sign, one facial expression. I love language and so enjoy interpreted theatre myself as an audience member. Being involved in what Deaf and hard of hearing see as an end result is so rewarding.

Q: Has there been anything else on your mind the past eight months?

A: COVID has really hit all of us hard, especially in the theatre world. I would like the community to show support – by creating projects. We want to keep theatre alive!

Q: Is there anything you would want hearing people to know about the Deaf theatre community?

A: That we CAN act, we CAN perform, and we CAN direct.

Stay connected on Instagram @shelika8

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