Christopher Welsh is an energetic and positive Deaf role model. He is a Toronto-based performer who has been entertaining audiences young and old alike for many years. He trained with the National Theatre of the Deaf in Chester, Connecticut in 1984 and studied improvisation at Second City in Toronto in 1988. That same year, he was the first deaf comedian to perform before a hearing audience at Yuk-Yuks in Toronto. He has also performed with the “Show Of Hands” Theatre Company in their national tours in 1988 and 1989.
From 1988 to the present, through his company Vibrisign and Wavehands, Christopher has toured his one-man show employing puppetry and mime, across Canada to various schools and festivals performing for children and adults of all ages. He also has given theatrical workshops on topics such as mime, improvisation, the use of facial expression, sign language workshops, and Visual Gestural communication workshops called “Mime to Sign”.
Christopher has appeared on television on YTV’s Treehouse and TV Ontario programs featuring ASL Storytelling, and most recently has worked with Shakespeare Link Canada to translate American Sign Language to English and Classic English and mini Deaf Theatre.
FADO Performance Art Centre presents Silent Dinner, an 8-hour performance in which a group of people arrive to the theatre space, set up a rudimentary kitchen, and then prep, cook and eat a dinner in shared silence, without communicating in their language of origin, in front of the attending audience. The performance is created with special guest artist Irish performance artist Amanda Coogan who is CoDA (Child of Deaf Adults) and 12 performer/participants who are a combination of Deaf and hearing performers and non-performers from Toronto.
PERFORMERS: Ahmed Muslimani Alexandrose Dayment Amanda Coogan Anselmo DeSousa Catherine MacKinnon Christopher Welsh Keli Safia Maksud Mary Balint Michelle Bourgeois Mikiki Laura Nanni Sage Willow Shannon Cochrane
Conceived by Shannon Cochrane & Amanda Coogan
Silent Dinner is inspired by a choreographic exercise devised by Canadian dance artist Justine Chambers entitled Family Dinner, and American artist Lois Weaver’s well-known public discourse practice, The Long Table. In Weaver’s Long Table (inspired by Marleen Gorris’s film Antonia’s Line, in which the dinner table continually extends to accommodate the growing community of outsiders and eccentrics, until finally the table must be moved out of doors), the rules of engagement allow those sitting at the table to participate in the conversation in whatever way they wish, without limit or restriction to access or content. Using the table as a structure to orchestrate a conversation around, this long table combines community interaction with theatricality. As a form The Long Table, “acknowledges the sometimes uncomfortable side of both private exchange and public engagement, while celebrating the potential for new forms of knowledge-making and -sharing”, while the rules (or rather, the helpful hints as Weaver calls them) state that there can be silence.
In FADO’s Silent Dinner, silence is transformed from a potential born of discomfort or newness, and transformed into the landscape in which indirect communication between people who don’t share the same language is negotiated. The dinner table becomes a meeting place for the intersection of culture and language (hearing and Deaf culture, English and ASL, performance as language) via a performance score employing the everyday activity of sharing a meal. Over the course of the 8-hours of the performance the performers experience, and the audience bares witness to, the many varied and complex layers of communication, compromise, and decision-making that are being performed through construction and deconstruction, art and food, theatre and everyday ritual, the performance of the public and the private. The table functions as both motif (in theatre the table is a prop, in performance it is material) and metaphor for community and connection.
POST-PERFORMANCE Q&A Join us at 9:00pm for coffee, dessert and a post-performance Q&A with the performers of Silent Dinner. ASL interpretation provided.
FADO would like to offer a big THANKS to our friends and colleagues who have helped us and made this project possible, including Signs Restaurant and Rachel Shemuel, Nicka Noble, Jess Shane, Deanna Bradley-Coelho, Kerry Grandfield and Corene Kennedy and the 2nd and 3rd year students of the ASL-English interpreter program at George Brown College, and our team of trained professional ASL-English interpreters Amanda Hyde, Tara Everett, Shelly Nafshi and Silvia Wannam.
This fragrance opens us to the question, has the show started? It's winter, the theatre is colder than the street and the room is filled with people and all their winter smells: wet faux leather, down, too much shampoo, and beer breath. The atmosphere is a trickster. Am I late, am I early?