The 6 train from Hunter College to Astoria was a 12 minute ride. I was grateful because my last class ended at 5:00 and CODA (Children of Deaf Adults) started at 5:30. By the time I got on the train, it was 5:09. I was a bit anxious because there's no late seating at Fringe. I was also excited because this was my very first Fringe Festival show and I’ve heard so much about the creativity - I was dying to see it. Once I reached the streets, I slammed my longboard unto the pavement and hauled ass till I reached 440 Studios.
I checked the sign and it said 4th floor. At this point it was 4:25 and I very much wanted to be seated and in a different world - but I was going from desk to desk asking where the White Box Studios were. 3rd floor. Rushing down the stairs, I was stopped for my ticket and the barcode wasn’t working so they just asked me for my name and let me in. Walking through the halls, I turned to the door on the right.
It was a medium sized room, mostly white except for the black pipes on the ceiling and the wooden floor. Open seats were sparingly spread out but there was absolutely no one in the second row. “Is this reserved?” “No.” Gold. I sat on the right side closest towards the middle aisle and waited for magic. A short man in all black came and introduced the show, on his right stood a tall woman dressed in all black, she was translating into sign language. As they both stepped to the side, the center stage light came on and a young man walked on stage and began by speaking about various unique experiences all centered around him growing up with deaf parents.
His stage only held himself, a sign language translator and a chair. That was all that was needed to connect his story to other people’s lives. The barrier of his parent’s illness created relationship problems with his friends, lovers and even his own relation to his parents. And one may think how can something that has nothing to do with you, have everything to do with you. I grew up with both my parents diagnosed with a chronic, once considered terminal, illness. I saw myself in Mark Murray, the vulnerable actor on stage showing his true life.
I sympathized with his awkward moments of friends asking questions like, “What’s it like to have deaf parents?” or his teacher asking, “How do we communicate, then?” But my questions sounded more like “Why don’t your parents work?” or “Why does your mom have a disability MetroCard, she’s so young.” And the worst is having to explain to my principal in high school that my parents are too sick to come to school or no you cannot worry my parents because they have heart problems. But just like how Mark got out of speeding tickets, I used to get out of suspensions.
The show ended in sign language and since not many knew sign language no one really knew it was done, so I clapped and then the crowd clapped along. He finally bowed. He gave a few words and thank you’s and then we were being escorted out the venue. The show was only 45 minutes long but I felt like I’ve lived his life. I waited in the lobby for his exit because I wanted to ask him “What’s one other story he’d like to share that’s not in the play?” He gave me his card and said we should chat. I felt a little overjoyed knowing that someone might understand what I go through. Staring at the black matte card in my hand, I walked down the stairs thinking about the conversations we would have.