Write Local. Play Global. is delighted that playwright Willy Conley was able to take some time away from his playwriting, as well as his teaching at Gallaudet University (the world's only liberal arts school for Deaf and hard of hearing students) to answer a few questions about his work.
WLPG: Was there something in particular that motivated you to start writing for young audiences?
WILLY: I believe the seeds of my motivation to write spawned from my first professional job in the theatre as an actor with a touring educational outreach theatre troupe called “Sunshine Too!". This group was formed by the performing arts department of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at R.I.T. in Rochester, NY. We were a company of three Deaf and three hearing actors who did it all – write, act, direct, design, build, set up, strike, launder, and drive. Under the brilliant guidance of renowned clown-mime-theatre artist Doug Berky, an ensemble member, we created “Arlecchino’s Dream" a commedia del arte piece. It was done in American Sign Language and spoken English, and turned out to be a hit with young Deaf and hearing audiences nationwide. Having been inspired by this experience, I began writing seriously in journals in the van, in restaurants, and motels.