Next time you’re alone in a dark, quiet room, shut your eyes. Block out all sound.
For the deaf and blind performers of Nalagaat, an acclaimed Israeli theater ensemble, the impregnable darkness and silence is just reality, a black canvas on which to work.
In the troupe’s “Not by Bread Alone,” which is to have its United States premiere at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at New York University on Wednesday, brush strokes of raw memories, fantastical journeys, pantomime sketches and fleeting but indelible snippets of dreams add up to a theatrical happening that draws the audience into the performers’ world.
The actors of Nalagaat (the name is Hebrew for Please Do Touch) can’t see or hear the audience; most of them can’t talk. Interpreters convey their inner voices according to a script, and supertitles in English, Hebrew and Arabic appear on a screen above the stage. Sometimes a silent-movie-type soundtrack tinkles in the background. At other times the audience is invited to sing along with a song composed for the show.
To the best of my knowledge, none of the performers are clamoring to be euthanized,.