American Sign Language Artist Interprets Shakespeare and Chinese Folklore

March 22, 2012 — Experience Chinese folklore and Shakespearean sonnets translated into American Sign Language on March 27 at the University of Virginia. Artist Monique Holt will perform at 7 p.m. in Minor Hall auditorium for the ASL/Deaf Culture Lecture Series. The event, which will have English voice interpretation, is free and open to the public.

Holt, who is deaf, grew up in Pennsylvania the child of deaf Mennonite parents and first caught the theatrical bug from watching a PBS production of "Swan Lake" when she was young. At the Model Secondary School for the Deaf, she got her chance to perform as a student. She went on to earn a bachelor of fine arts degree in acting from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and an MFA from Towson University in Maryland. The actress, poet and storyteller now lives near Washington, D.C.

Holt's training focused on acting, physical movement and modern dance. Most of her work entails acting in a variety of roles, translating from English texts to ASL (especially Shakespearean plays), creating original poems, adapting Asian folktales, directing plays, instructing students in theater and the acting business and advocating for deaf artists.

In addition, she is the author of "The Night Was so Hungry That It Ate the Moon," a play she wrote because she needed a simple story for kindergarten students to perform when she was artist-in-residence at Fanwood School for the Deaf.

Her visit is co-sponsored by the U.Va. American Sign Language Program and the Learning Needs and Evaluation Center.

— By Anne Bromley