Tuc is sweeping. With each stroke of his broom the voices of his present define him by his “disability”: “poor unfortunate man,” “deaf as a fireplug.” The play catapults him back in time to the fever dream on the night he lost his hearing to scarlet fever. It traces his journey through his early life on the farm with his beloved father and his experiences at the deaf school where he learns sign language. After the death of his father he comes to live with Nell Hicks, a midwife who has been exiled by the town to Dug Hill. Along the way, Tuc is befriended by Maizie, a wild child and pregnant teenager who works in the deaf school. Maizie, the hearing child of deaf parents, feels she belongs neither to the deaf nor hearing worlds. The play uses a combination of English and American sign language to tell its story. Its themes are tolerance, family and the importance of language as a means of defining self and connecting to others. Each character speaks and moves in ways that do not fit within the limitations of “mainstream society.” They find themselves and each other in the confluence of languages of the heart and mind.
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