By Vernon Nickerson
“WHAT”, written and directed by Alex Lev, stars brilliant actor John Maucere in a film with a stellar cast of deaf male and female actors. They collaborate to give us a profound, powerful, and whimsical look at being a minority deaf culture in a majority culture of hearing humans. WHAT, is aptly billed as a not-so-silent film about a deaf actor searching for his first big break.
Everyone needs to see this film. The one thing they did very little of was bridge the gap using handwriting. Brilliant move. The energy required to be deaf and navigate in a hearing community is stunning.
Note well: When you go, plan ahead to sit through the entire film. One bathroom break after the opening credits and you will miss important plot turns and character story arcs. For warned is forearmed.
Is there any reason we couldn’t start now to require ASL literacy as part of the common core curriculum? The language, notably the finger alphabet, was seminal in Annie Sullivan’s work with Helen Keller.
Funny thing, on Saturday, March 14, 2020, I experienced how silence and solitude “feel.” At least I was able to talk to myself through the fear. Voila! I wasn’t totally alone. Yes, even at my lowest points, there was sound to reassure me and keep me grounded in present realities.
.Someday, I hope to teach social skills lessons to a classroom of young adults using this film. We’ll augment and amplify the learning by learning to sign all the dialogue in the movie. It will be EPIC! People, hopefully, led by my principal, will want to see WHAT! in the world is going on in my classroom. And we will tell them using ASL. What is a