Deaf Mime Project
This project engaged students from the MSD and from MP’s special program for adult Deaf immigrant and refugee ASL students.
In March 2013, MCSD took over the Deaf Mine Project from DCM. The Winnipeg Foundation (WF) funding for the project, totalling $20,000.00, was transferred from DCM to MCSD. The funds were split over two years, so MCSD received $10,000.00 in 2013 and a further $10,000.00 in 2014.
In 2013, this grant was divided into two halves: $5,000.00 went to the Deaf Mime Troupe, and the remaining $5,000.00 went into developing the MCSD (see Re-establishing MCSD [link to this program]).
In the second year, 2014, the $10,000.00 received from WF went entirely into the mime project.
An additional grant for $10,000.00 came from the Manitoba Arts Council in late 2013 for the project.
The project had four main goals:
to provide a vehicle for artistic expression, allowing members of Winnipeg’s Deaf community to express themselves through art by and for the Deaf community;
to provide the Deaf community with an artistic bridge, to engage and participate with Winnipeg’s overall arts community and audiences;
to provide a healthy form of self-expression for young people, as an alternative to “acting out” and engaging in socially harmful behavior; and
to provide access to training and mentorship to members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) communities, so that primary leadership and management of the Theatre Troupe can transition to this community over five years.
A professional Mime artist, Shannon Guile from the Hot Thespian Troupe, was hired from 2012 to 2015 to develop and design a mime-based theatre program and to work with the students. The response from the students was overwhelming.
Five of the best of students were chosen to form the first Deaf Mime Troupe production, putting on three shows in 2012. (These shows were funded by a previous grant that DCM secured; see the Note on Funding below.)
The Winnipeg Free Press published an article about the shows, which provided a great deal of publicity about the performing group. After the article appeared, the Troupe was invited to perform at Art + Body: The Possible, Improbable & Everything in Between at the Winnipeg Art Gallery on October 11th, 2012.
A second production was mounted at MSD, and the publicity led to more performances. At the two-year mark, the students received more advanced professional mime training, with an eye to becoming instructors themselves, as well as taking over the leadership of the Deaf Mime Troupe.
In Fall 2013, the Deaf Mime Troupe started rehearsals at the University of Winnipeg, preparatory to performing in the 2014 Winnipeg Fringe Festival. As well, more mime classes were offered to Kelvin High school for integrated Deaf high school students.
The Troupe of five performed for the MCSD Town Hall in Feb 2014.
The Deaf Mime Troupe—now named 100 Decibels: A Deaf Mime Troupe—continued acquiring more advanced mime skills. They also began writing their own pieces, culminating in a highly successful show entitled Can You Hear Me Now? at the 2014 Winnipeg Fringe Festival, which saw a sold-out theatre virtually every night. They received very high ratings from the media and were highlighted in a CBC special.
MCSD continued to take care of solicitation and administration of funds for the year. The troupe members continued to mentor under their current coach, Shannon Guile and began to take over management duties as they were trained.
In July 2015, after their Fringe Festival show Loud and Clear, the troupe were ready to branch out on their own.
This has been quite a success story! The Troupe's current actors—Joanna Hawkins, Jordan Sangalang, and Christopher DeGuzman, with Shannon Guile-Hardy as their manager—have gone on to perform in many festivals and events across Canada. They perform annually in Sound Off in Alberta and they performed at the 2017 Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg. They also regularly perform with the Sick + Twisted Theatre, putting on shows every year. They recently performed in the amazing Threepenny Opera, which won rave reviews and was nominated for the 2019 Evies awards.
Mime training has become an integral part of the learning experience for Deaf students in Winnipeg, as well as being available to anyone in the DHH community wishing to pursue it as an arts practice.
The Deaf Mime Workshops have had a lasting impact, one that is still being felt to this day. The Deaf Mime Troupe continues to perform independently.
Deaf Mime Troupe Year One: 2013
- Two Community workshops
- Two High School Workshops
- Troupe: 2-hour workshops every two weeks
- Mime training into Kelvin High School where we have previously successfully gathered integrated Deaf high school students and presented them with Mime training
- Workshops Jan–June and Sept–Dec, 2013
Year Two: 2013-2015
- Rehearse Troupe for Fringe
- 10 high school workshops
- Write for the Fringe
- Fringe Costs
- Workshops Jan–June, Sept–Dec, 2014
Note on funding
DCM wrote the first grant to the Manitoba Arts Council in 2010 and received MAC funding in 2011; Winnipeg Foundation funding in 2011; a second grant was submitted in 2012; and MCSD took over the project in 2013. DCM provided the space for adult mime classes, and transferred the grant funding to MCSD in March of 2013.
MSD and MP organized and provided space for the Mime classes.