Photo Flash: Teater Manu's SJALUSI Opens Tonight at Deaf West Theatre

Deaf West Theatre brings Teater Manu, Norway's professional sign language theater company, to the U.S. for the first time. Directed by Magne Brevik, the U.S. premiere of Sjalusi ("Jealousy") by Esther Vilar gets a limited 2-week engagement tonight, April 24 - May 4 at [Inside] the Ford. Scroll down for a first look at the cast in action!

A black comedy, Sjalusi stars Anne Line Kirste, Ipek D. Mehlum and Teater Manu founder/artistic director Mira Zuckermann as three women living on different floors of the same luxurious high-rise. Although they have never met, the trio is inter-connected by their secrets, a man and a feisty email conversation. It's a story as truthful as life, love and jealousy itself, filled with forbidden emotions, desire and passion.

Teater Manu first staged Sjalusi in 2009 for Clin d'Oeil, Europe's largest cultural festival for deaf people held in Reims, France, and for Culture Days for Deaf People in Oslo. In order to make the production accessible to an American audience, Deaf West sent a team of ASL Masters to Norway to translate the play into an International Sign Language/American Sign Language hybrid. The actors will be voiced in English by Kjersti Fjeldstad.

"Most people don't realize that not all sign languages are alike," says Deaf West artistic director David J. Kurs. "Because of our facility with body language and non-manual expression, an area that deaf actors truly excel at, we're able to learn other sign languages quickly. I'm grateful for opportunities for cross-cultural learning and exchange that allow us to expand our understanding of deaf people and their place in other cultures. Ipek Mehlum previously appeared in our co-production [with the Fountain Theatre] of Cyrano in 2012. Our actors learned so much from her instinctual and heartfelt style of performance, and I hope she took something home to Norway after three months on our stage."

Teater Manu is Norway's professional sign language theater. Under the leadership of Zuckermann, the company has been performing since 2003 and tours nationally. It is the recipient of Norway's highest theater award, the Hedda.

Deaf West Theatre is recognized as the premier sign language theater in the United States. Over the last 23 years, DWT has produced over 40 plays and four musicals, winning more than 80 theater awards including a Tony® nomination and four Drama Desk Awards for the Broadway production of Big River, which also received Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle and Backstage Garland awards for Best Musical when it first premiered in L.A. Other award-winning productions include Cyrano (a co-production with the Fountain Theatre - Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Production), A Streetcar Named Desire (Ovation Award for Best Play, 2000) and Oliver! (Ovation Award for Best Musical, 2000). In 2005, DWT was selected to receive the Highest Recognition Award by the Secretary of Health and Human Services for its "distinguished contributions to improve and enrich the culture lives of deaf and hard of hearing actors and theater patrons."

Sjalusi ("Jealousy") runs April 24 through May 4, with performances on Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m. General admission is $30; students with valid ID pay only $25. [Inside] the Ford is located at 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East in Hollywood, CA 90068. Free, non-stacked parking is available on site. For reservations and information, call (818) 762-2998 (voice) or go to www.deafwest.org.

Photo Credit: Caroline Roka/Teater Manu

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