National Theatre of the CODA

Betty Beekman

The National Theatre of the Deaf recently announced the appointment of a new executive director.

I know what you’re thinking.  “The National Theatre of the Deaf is still around??”  Can’t blame you for thinking that.  They have been exceedingly quiet for many years now.

The following article will fill you in on the news:

I left a response to this article but it wasn’t printed.  Dissension is not allowed on a “happy news” website.

But I’m sharing it here:

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I’m a deaf person myself and have been a journalist in the deaf community for some 30 years.

I’m very disappointed that the NTD board of directors handed the director’s job on a silver platter to Betty Beekman without letting anyone else apply.  Hearing people can run all the other theaters in America.  Let a deaf person run the National Theatre of the Deaf!

(I’m surprised I even have to say this, it’s such a no-brainer.)

I learned from an NTD board member that they didn’t even bother to look for a deaf director because they didn’t think they’d find anyone.

What does it say about the NTD that in their 45th year of existence, they don’t think there is a single deaf person in America with the capability of running their theater?  Clearly they’ve done a lousy job of developing deaf theater talent.

The NTD was once a big deal.  They used to put on mainstage plays with some of the best deaf actors in America while traveling around the world.  Now they are reduced to four unknowns putting on a show for kids in school auditoriums.

How did that happen?  Betty Beekman has been there all along and I put a lot of the blame for the current state of affairs on her shoulders.

NTD’s current management makes too many excuses.  They’re still crying about the government cutting off their funding years ago.  But plenty of theaters are successful without government money.

The NTD needs new blood, not tired old people who do things the same old way because that’s all they know.

They haven’t even caught on to social media yet!  They have a page on Facebook with nearly 5,500 fans but haven’t posted a thing since last November.

The NTD board was clearly negligent in not even trying to find a deaf director.  If these people don’t want to do their jobs, I think they should get out of the way and make room for those who do.

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I am not anti-CODA* (I’m father to two myself), but if a CODA is going to be appointed to head a deaf organization, I’d like to see some evidence that the organization at least gave deaf people a chance to apply.

The NTD did not.  Thus I propose a new and more appropriate name for the theater going forward:  National Theatre of the CODA.

* CODA = child of deaf adults

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