"We are thrilled and honored to receive this generous gift," said Betty Beekman, executive director of the NTD. "Establishing this scholarship not only allows us to expand our enrollment, but it also can be a beacon for other benefactors and donors to this program and to enable the NTD to continue its great efforts to bring the beauty of American Sign Language to hearing and deaf audiences, young and old."
The students participate in classes and workshops, script development, rehearsals, guest lectures and demonstrations. They also have the opportunity to perform with the actors from NTD, culminating in a short tour to venues including the NTD production of "It's in the Bag" at Hygienic Art Park in New London, CT, near the NTD's home base.
The National Theatre of the Deaf was established in 1967 during a pivotal time in American history when closed captioned television for the deaf and hearing impaired did not yet exist and even telephones for the deaf had only recently been invented. The highly successful Broadway play "The Miracle Worker," helped inspire the founding of the theatre because of its artistic use of sign language. NTD's graduates went on to fame in such theatrical productions as "Big River" and on the stage and Hollywood screen in "Children of a Lesser God."
The theatre company comprises both deaf and hearing actors and performs in both American Sign Language and spoken language, giving rise to one of its tag-lines, "You See and Hear Every Word." With more than 45 years touring the nation and world, the National Theatre of the Deaf is oldest continually touring theatre company in the United States.
Alan Gocha is an attorney and managing member with the Oakland Law Group based in Farmington Hills, MI. He has more than 25 years of experience practicing various areas of law, including intellectual property, real estate, business transactions and securities law. Gocha earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University and his law degree magna cum laude from University of Toledo College of Law.
Gocha had seen American Sign Language in use when he was beginning his legal career and only recently became aware of the NTD.
"When I realized the great work this heralded organization has performed over the years, I wanted to find a way to help," Gocha said. "I hope this scholarship inspires others to set up their own programs for the immersion program or to otherwise support the NTD, as its efforts are so worthy."
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SOURCE National Theatre of the Deaf