South Pacific

Utah-CAN worked hard to get a play captioned for us and I wanted to support their efforts. I dreaded using the phone to buy tickets so I drove downtown to buy them from the theater. The play was South Pacific, nothing for me to get excited about but I wanted to support my community efforts. When the lady handed me the tickets for the matinee presentation, I finally got excited. Wow! I’m going to see a captioned play! It’s totally different entertainment for me and I hoped more would be captioned in the future.

The SayWhatClub convention is going to be held here in Salt Lake, August 15 – 18. Utah-CAN asked to make sure the box office knew we would be interested in more captioned performances. Hmmm.

“I have a group of hard of hearing people coming to town for a convention this summer. What are the chances of getting Wicked captioned at that time?”

She excused herself to ask her manager and came back to me with ASL interpreted dates. She/they really thought this would work for us. Disappointment settled in. They don’t get it yet.

“That won’t work for us,” I told her. “We grew up hearing and speaking with many of us losing our hearing later in life. Most of us don’t know sign language and never will. We need captions because we still sort of belong to the hearing world.”

She excused herself again and came back more apologetic this time. She handed me a card for Broadway Across America and told me to get in touch with them.

I walked away thinking I would contact the company. I also know Utah-CAN will probably be working for more captioned plays too. What really bugged me was how we are lumped into the Deaf, not that I have a problem with the Deaf, but our communication needs are so different. We hear of Deaf Culture… maybe it was time to come out, OUT LOUD, with hard of hearing culture. I’m not sure how to go about doing that but I will be thinking on it.


So I go to the play knowing nothing about South Pacific. As we wait for the doors to open, I walk by the souvenir booth and I see a shirt that says, “I’m going to wash that man right out of my hair” and I start laughing. I know that part of the play! There’s this other goofy favorite movie of mine called Welcome to Woop Woop and they spoof that scene so I do know something of South Pacific.

The doors open and we take our seats. I spot the captioning to the left of the stage in red lettering. Relief fills me and more excitement bubbles up. I see a number of people from our hard of hearing community and I’m giddy. Then the seats start filling in and I realize the captions aren’t high enough. Two young girls with big hair are sitting in front of us, tall girls. I look over to the side and watch as one of the people from the Sanderson Center advocate with the theater staff for two little old ladies who couldn’t see the captions through all the heads. They brought the women seat cushions to boost them and they settled in. Maybe I could have used one too.

I look at the girl of me and think, if she stays scrunched down in her seat, I’m ok. She doesn’t. I ask my boyfriend to change seats with me but I still don’t have a clear view of the captions. I sit up straight and the girl in front of me sits up straight. I lean to the side and it’s not long until she leans to the side. Finally I lean over my knees and rest my head on my arm to watch the captions and play. Would you believe the girl in front of me did the same thing? It was crazy enough I laughed a little. I leaned back when she leaned forward and still watched the play and captions. Back and forth we went for almost 3 hours.

In spite of the minor frustration, I enjoyed the play. I have now seen South Pacific. The captions were right on and my delay in laughing was just a second or so behind everyone else. Even with the difficulties in seeing the captions, I enjoyed the play and I’m glad I went. I would go again but I would make the suggestion that the captions be higher up in the air. Or maybe I should insist on sitting closer. The play was totally different entertainment for me and hopefully the visible captions spread a little hearing loss awareness.

One the way out, I saw our CART person (not working that day) and she asked me how it went. I told her it was great except they weren’t high enough. She nodded. I bet it’s better next time because I wasn’t the only one wishing I was taller.


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