‘Twist and Shout’ with ASL club

Published 10:36 pm Thursday, March 10, 2011

From left, Lakeland High School students Cierra Eley and Lynn Eckman rehearse for “A Beatles Tribute in Sign.” The high school’s American Sign Language Club and the drama club are hosting the play, during which students will sign and act out many of the Beatles' most popular songs.

If you like the Beatles, you’ll love an upcoming performance at Lakeland High School.

Lakeland’s American Sign Language (ASL) Club, in conjunction with the drama club, will be hosting the ASL spring play March 19-20. The clubs hope to make it an annual event.

This year, the ASL Club and volunteers will be performing “A Beatles Tribute in Sign.”

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The group will be signing and acting out such songs as “Eleanor Rigby,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Blackbird,” “Rock and Roll Music,” “Help,” “Twist and Shout,” “Hey Jude,” “She Loves You,” “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and more.

The ASL Club is made up of Anita Fisher’s ASL students, as well as students who simply find sign language interesting. The drama club and drama teacher, Sara Sims, are supporting the ASL performers by helping with stage direction, lighting, makeup and more.

The ASL performers have been preparing for their performance for months now, and they are eager to perform.

“I’m really excited, and I’m sure we will have a big turnout,” said Amanda Sowerby, a senior.

Sowerby said the club has been passing out flyers and inviting community members to generate interest in the event.

“It’s a commitment,” sophomore Tierra Eley said. “You have to be committed to participate.”

Not only do ASL performers have to memorize their lines in sign language, but they also have to be able to dance and act during certain scenes. Some of the ASL performers have had to learn salsa and tango moves to be able to perform their scenes.

Fisher said it’s also important to have noticeable facial expressions when speaking in American Sign Language.

“In American Sign Language, facial expression is the adverb that makes verbs come alive,” Fisher said.

Fisher said her students have become more adept at expressing themselves through sign language because of the play.

“The students who are signing in the musical have become more natural with signs, facial expressions and body movements,” she said. “Before, they had to think about it, and it looked more manufactured. Now they just flow.”

Not all of the performers are ASL Club members. Some students volunteered to perform after hearing their friends talk about how much fun they were having in the group.

Fisher encourages anyone to come out and see the performance, even if they don’t know any sign language.

“It will give you insight into how American Sign Language is used as a language,” she said. “You will see a story unfold that will keep you in awe of how they do that. It’s totally different.”

The performances will take place on March 19 at 6:30 p.m. and March 20 at 2:30 p.m. in the Lakeland High School auditorium. The performance is open to the public. Tickets can be purchased at the door on the night of the performance. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students.