Ethan Sinnott's official statement (5/8/08)
I am a career Deaf theatre artist. I also am the first, only, and hopefully not last, Deaf set designer working professionally.
Eben Kostbar is a hearing actor playing a Deaf character, presumably with Matt Hamill's blessing.
My view on this is that for every Deaf role taken by a hearing actor is one less opportunity for a Deaf actor in a field where Deaf people are vastly underrepresented. Eben promotes the fact that this film "...will allow Deaf actors to showcase themselves on the big screen as well as many opportunities for Deaf filmmakers to become active in the making of this film."
My question to Eben is, why are you not content with being the producer and co-writer of the project, no more? We recognize that this project is largely your brainchild.
My next question to Eben, then, is what is insufficient about being recognized as the producer and co-writer of the project?
Inconsistency in casting Deaf actors for Deaf roles cannot be interpreted as a healthy sign of sincerity in respect and empathy to Deaf people.
My third and final question to Eben is, then, if you were/are a white actor, does it show any sensitivity if you decided to take it upon yourself to play a black character, "...promis[ing] [to take] this role very seriously... represent[ing] [black] culture and community with accuracy, respect and, most importantly, the utmost grace."
A pre-existing, innate Deaf perspective--layered with life experiences only Deaf people can relate to and identify with--is the only way to ensure the honesty, authenticity, and dignity in truthful portrayals of Deaf characters in theatre and film. We expect no less.
Ethan Sinnott, MFA
Theatre Arts Department