Presented by ArtsEmerson: The World on Stage
Created by Adina Tal and Nalaga’at Deaf-Blind Theater
Conceived by AdinaTal
Original music by Amnon Baaham
“Dancing Closely” written and performed by Zvi Tal
Review by Kitty Drexel
(Boston) Not by Bread Alone is the most sincere piece of theatre I have seen all year. Productions like this are why we artists create; it is why theatre exists. The tremendous talent of the Nalag’at Deaf-Blind Theater is awe-inspiring. It’s Boston run is over but it will be in the US for a while longer. I suggest doing everything in your power to attend this brilliant production.
We, the disabled, are people. We are not inspirations because we are different or because we can live what the abled consider a “normal” life. If we inspire, it is because we have something to say, to teach above and beyond our disabilities. Our disabilities don’t make us an inspiration; our capacity to positively shape/influence the world makes us inspirational. One must understand this in order to appreciate art made by and/or for the disabled community. Anything labeled as art or entertainment that seeks to glorify the disabled through attempts to live like the abled is disability porn*. It should be shunned**.
The adult actors of Nalaga’at Theater are all deaf, blind, or deaf-blind. Not unlike the narratives of Undesirable Elements productions by Ping Chong, the stories told in this production are the truths of the actors. Through pantomime, dance, song and storytelling, they speak of their dreams, ambitions, fears and human experiences. By discussing their struggles and achievements, they show the audience, how very much the same we all are. The actors are a mirror that holds the audience responsible for their reflected humanity.
The major themes in this production are universal: darkness, silence and loneliness. For example, one doesn’t need to see to experience emotional darkness. Fearlessness is the ambition of everyone who has ever experienced fear. The pacing is excellent. The talent is remarkable. The vignettes are touching and hilarious. There is something for everyone.
The production runs for approximately the amount of time it takes to make a loaf of bread (or many loaves in this case). The actors perform while the loaves are rising and baking. Once the loaves are taken from the onstage ovens, the audience is encouraged to join the actors onstage to break bread and chat. Please don’t be shy. They are lively but only bite when invited. That’s what the bread is for anyway.
*We don’t congratulate you for doing relatively normal activities. Don’t patronize us by doing the same.
**Check your privilege.