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Pumphouse Theatre hosting a musical production for families about the relationship between a deaf mom and her hearing son.


The child of a deaf adult is referred to as a CODA and a Calgary musical called 'Songs My Mother Never Sung Me' is offering a glimpse into playwright and composer Dave Clarke’s experience growing up in a hearing world with deaf parents.

 Erik Mortimer, who plays piano throughout the play onstage, is in his second run of the show as its musical director.

"So in Dave's case, he's a hearing child and both of his parents are deaf and what that experience is like growing up," he said. "The play goes through early life (of the child) and then into adulthood, following Dave's life and it's a perspective that's not usually told in a play."

Elizabeth Morris is a deaf actor who plays the boy's mother and uses American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate. Morris says the play is geared towards children and families.

"This play is a really great opportunity  to show a deaf role model," she said. "It's fabulous for kids and families, it's a good opportunity to see a deaf role model for deaf children, hearing children and also for deaf people who have families to see that we're all the same."

Morris says she loves musicals and her story growing up was a little different than Clarkes' was.

"My mom is hearing but she had a very strong musical background and she had four children," said Morris. "Three of them were deaf and one of them is hearing and thought she might have to give up music but she enjoyed seeing me performing a musical."


Josh Travnik plays the young boy and says this is the first time he's played a character speaking, singing and signing simultaneously.

"I love doing musicals, I love music and singing and so getting to layer that in I was like, Oh, this will be so much fun," he said. "Then we started and I was like, Oh, this is gonna be the hardest thing I've ever done."

Travnik says the learning curve has been worth it and has opened his eyes to the deaf theatre community.

"We actually had a deaf theatre company called Deaf Crows Theatre, who drove up from Regina (to Saskatoon) to come see the show," he said. "It was so much fun to get to meet them and see how excited they are and how much they love theatre and just, it felt like I had a very narrow focus in theatre and this show has really broadened my horizons."


Inside Out Theatre is presenting the show here that's produced by Concerate Theatre Production based in Edmonton.

"Inside Out Theatre is a deaf, disability and mad theatre company here in Calgary," said Col Cseke, the artistic and executive director. "We do shows like this that are all created by deaf, disabled and mad artists, then we also do lots of community programs and events and we work with all the other arts organizations in Calgary to make their work more accessible for audiences in Calgary."

Cseke says he hopes deaf kids are inspired by seeing a professional deaf perform are working alongside hearing actors.

"To see the beauty of sign language in a musical, to see that language just like our voices curve and lilt and change," he said. "And all the dynamic and beauty that is involved in sign language and the music, all of it coming together is such a unique, beautiful thing for young Calgarians to experience, I'm just so excited about this show."

The production runs at the Pumphouse Theatre from February 22 to March 2nd and Mortimer says it's an inclusive experience.

"The audience getting to experience it with hearing and deaf people in the same room," he said. "I think it really gives you a sense of empathy towards the story in real time."

Learn more about the production here. Top Stories

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