Lakeland puts on ASL play

Published 10:27 pm Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Bedtime stories with a twist are what’s in store for ticketholders at Lakeland’s American Sign Language play this weekend.

Students will put on a play completely in sign language while someone narrates the story. The play isn’t just for the students that take ASL. About half of the students that participate are only part of the play and are not in a sign language class.

Anita Fisher, Lakeland’s ASL teacher, wrangles all the students to put on two shows over the weekend. Fisher has been teaching at Lakeland for 15 years, and she wrote the play herself.

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“We normally do it to music, but I decided to write my own play this year,” Fisher said.

Spectators will see a mix of students playing the Big Bad Wolf, Mary had a Little Lamb and other bedtime stories, but the twist is adding a detective’s office to help solve the crimes that happen in the story.

All of the students participating, whether they take the class or not, found a love for ASL through friends, family or their own curiosity.

Some of the students weren’t the first from their family to have Fisher teach them ASL.

Sisters Sydney, a sophomore, and Shelby Stubenrauch, a freshman, are sisters following in their older brothers’ and mother’s footsteps.

“Well my mom took it, and my eldest brother took it with Mrs. Fisher, so it became a tradition,” Sydney said.

Shelby followed along when it came time to go to high school, but she enjoys taking it because she “likes learning new things.”

One student took the class because she was already immersed in the language at home.

“My sister was diagnosed with epilepsy and an auditory processing disorder,” said sophomore Abigail Gallop. “Plus, my mom is an interpreter who knows Mrs. Fisher.”

Some of the production crew that participates were brought along by friends, but they learned to love the production and have enjoyed learning the language.
“I wanted to get out and help a friend,” said sophomore Mechone Davis.

While the students enjoy spending time with friends, there is a lot of hard work to learn their lines for the play.

While they don’t have to speak, they have to translate on the spot when the narrator reads their lines.

Fisher has faith that the students can put on a spectacular play and has invited multiple groups to attend, including other high school ASL classes and Tidewater Community College’s ASL classes. This also gives the students opportunities to interact with the deaf community.

The ASL spring play will be held at Lakeland High School, 214 Kenyon Road, at 6:30 p.m. on both April 20 and 21. Tickets are available at the door. Adults are $5, students are $3 and children under 6 are free.