It is not often that I get to meet here in Burbank, California a beautiful and charming stage actress with sixteen shows on the New York stage. Oh sure there are tons of folks in this town from a film and television background but fairly few from the New York stage. Fewer still are those who have penned a powerful, gripping and critically acclaimed play. Yet there she was right there with me in a local Burbank eatery, the amazing Gloria Rosen. Gloria has returned to the greater Los Angeles area yet again after two previous smash hit performances at The Electric Lodge in Venice, California in 2010 and 2011. Now she is bringing her show “Listen Can You Hear Me Now?” to the Complex Theatre in Hollywood. So the reason we got together was so I could learn what inspired Gloria Rosen to write and perform this amazing one woman show about dealing with deaf parents.
Absolutely all of us come from families with at least some issues. They can range from the minor and benign to the deeply devastating. But being raised in a home where both parents are deaf presents a wide range of life challenges rarely discussed in our society. Indeed a few years ago there was an excellent documentary produced that addressed the many issues of deafness and how the challenges that condition presents were being dealt with. The documentary covered many different circumstances including deaf children and a deaf parent or other family member but totally left out a family situation where both parents were deaf. That experience is the essence of the play “Listen Can You Hear Me Now” written and performed by Gloria Rosen and conceived by Peter Flint.
Gloria and her brother grew up in a home where neither mother nor father could hear. Well actually mom did have some hearing but severely limited hearing. So the primary means of communication at home was by means of signing. Mom also was an excellent lip reader but she also forbid the children from signing with dad. Why was never satisfactorily explained to Gloria, but there it was one more challenge. As one can imagine this dramatically limited the children’s social life. How, for example do you bring kids home only to have to explain to them why mom and dad are ignoring their attempts to communicate? And then there are other eerie elements in place. When the phone rings it doesn’t ring but rather a light flashes. Same thing for the door bell which is actually a door light. How does something as simple and basic as a parent teacher conference take place? These are but a very few of the ways the lives of Gloria Rosen and her brother differed dramatically from those other kids they went to school and eventually to work with. It presented major challenges pretty much every day.
Nevertheless Gloria was in graduate school on a path to becoming a teacher when she decided to take a year off to more or less sort things out in her life. She spent that year honing her acting skills and in the course of doing so her focus shifted fully to a career in acting and she never looked back. She attained a significant level of professional success not only on stage but also in film and television. As that unfolded her life story became known to her acting coach and that eventually led to the creation “Listen Can You Hear Me Now?”
What gives this story such broad acceptance and meaning is that while the specifics obviously deal with the fairly narrow issue of life challenges in a home with deaf parents ultimately the story explores the struggle of life as an outsider. From her earliest years Gloria was the voice and conduit for her parents. As she grew up she began seeking her own voice and that is the essence of this compelling story. Now Gloria Rosen dreams of taking this story to television as a documentary or perhaps a docu-drama.
Right now, however, you have the opportunity to experience this most unique and powerful and very personal story by watching Gloria Rosen in “Listen Can You Hear Me Now?” at The Complex Theatre, 6470 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood, California 90038. It is a short run, only four performances: Saturday June 15th at 2:15 pm, Sunday June 16th at 6:15 pm, Saturday June 22 at 3:30 pm and Sunday June 23rd at 6:15 pm. For ticket information visit: www.hollywoodfringe.org.
I was thoroughly charmed by the delightful Gloria Rosen. I have yet to see her performance although I am committed to being there June 15th but from the reviews I have read and from the energy I felt during our very captivating meeting I am confident that this show will be one I will remember for many years to come. It became clear to me that this is absolutely not about someone crying “Oh poor me!” but rather a sensitive tale of very real life passions and challenges and ultimately overcoming adversity. You can get further acquainted with Gloria Rosen at www.gloriarosen.org. I would very much suggest you visit that site and then let’s go see the show.
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