Theatre and Education for the Deaf Department

The department was originally founded in 1992 under the name Dramatist Education for the Deaf with a focus on movement education disciplines as three-year Bachelor’s degree studies. Since 2007, it offers full-time Master’s degree studies, which are conceived as an artistic and pedagogical field of study. Both deaf and hearing students can study here.  The establishment of this artistic-pedagogical field at the JAMU Theatre Faculty in Brno was primarily a friendly act toward deaf people interested in university studies. Understanding for this minority was expressed by hiring a full-time Czech sign language interpreter.

The bachelor’s degree studies focus on the personal growth of each student, emphasising movement skills within the movement disciplines and developing the student’s ability to be a communicative creative personality, especially in the pedagogical and artistic fields. One of the core courses of the field is “Movement Theatre”, which synthesises several subjects. These are primarily movement-oriented subjects: Basic movement training, Special movement training, Acrobatics, Classical and modern, ballroom and historical dance, Work with tools and juggling. It is also important to link to theoretical subjects such as psychology, pedagogy, didactics, and special pedagogy. From the beginning, the Movement Theatre course has been conceived as a “laboratory” where new ways of Deaf theatre and the possibilities of using theatre practices in special and inclusive education are sought and found. Currently, this field of study is being enriched with current innovative practices, which relate, for example, to making the musical-dramatic genre accessible to the Deaf, where the stage form of sign language and its intensive research form a significant component.  Interdisciplinary cooperation and cooperation with other cultural and educational institutions are also essential, as they provide us with specific feedback, inspiring suggestions, but also a specific demand for cooperation that takes place on the artistic-pedagogical platform.

These studies aim to prepare professionals for practice with acceptance of the specificities of students and target groups of children, youth and adults. Therefore, in the bachelor’s degree studies, the emphasis is placed on cultivating and teaching the artistic use of Czech sign language and at the same time on the artistic interpretation into Czech sign language. The theatrical field of this discipline is developed and the possibility of theatre as an educational tool is explored. This is done by the active creation of productions performed by hearing-impaired children and youth and also by the creation of productions for children, youth and adults. The theatrical production is an artistic activity and at the same time an educational tool. For the Deaf, it is also a tool for self-awareness, therapy, communication and education. These productions can communicate with deaf and hearing audiences alike while maintaining the specificity of productions. The realisation of such a production has an impact on the pedagogical and social levels.

 Social orientation is important and emphasis is placed on finding adequate means of expression corresponding to the age of children, young people and adults. And also to the nature of the institution for which the production is created (school, extracurricular institutions, primary art schools, clubs, societies, civic associations).

The Theatre and Education for the Deaf  Department prepares graduates for professional and amateur theatre production, especially for children and young people. It explores the possibilities of active involvement of young spectators in theatrical performances and develops the possibilities of offering a full-fledged experience for hearing-impaired children and youth.

Graduates find employment in the field of education and culture. It has been confirmed in practice that illustration and personal experience are irreplaceable principles in the teaching of deaf children and youth. The creation of children or youth productions has a pedagogical, social and therapeutic impact. Graduates of the bachelor’s degree studies may continue in the follow-up master’s degree studies. In addition, graduates of the bachelor’s degree studies may, for example, find employment as lecturers of leisure activities in organisations and institutions that focus on art in education and training, in theatres or in the implementation of their own creative project activities.

The Master’s degree studies in Theatre and Education for the Deaf aim to prepare professionals with a pedagogical and artistic background.

After successfully completing the demanding bachelor’s degree studies of Theatre and Education for the Deaf, where the personal growth of each student is emphasised and his or her ability to be a communicative creative personality developed, especially in the field of pedagogy, the master’s studies developed and examine above all the theatrical area of this field and the possibilities to use theatre as an educational tool. This is done by the active creation of productions performed by hearing-impaired children and youth and also by the creation of productions for children, youth and adults.

In the master’s degree studies of Theatre and Education for the Deaf, the students develop their pedagogical competencies and acquire new knowledge in the field of dramaturgical preparation of production, screenwriting and directing. They improve their skills in the field of acting and become acquainted with the basics of scenography. Emphasis is placed on the specificities that arise from the capabilities of this minority.                               

The department has produced productions that have represented the Theatre Faculty JAMU at international and domestic festivals, for example in the USA, China, France, Germany, Poland, Austria, Holland, Belgium, Latvia, Sweden, Slovakia, Slovenia and Kosovo.

Our students found success at both domestic and foreign festivals, enjoying awards and establishing communication with the audience. The barriers between actors and spectators disappeared in moments of theatrical presentation. Communication helps Deaf people to build their own self-esteem, anchor their own identity and it improves their independence and self-confidence. A more positive attitude towards learning about this minority is formed in the hearing public, which can lead to a broader understanding, and subsequent acceptance, respect and understanding.

Theatre and Education for the Deaf  Department is also currently co-operating with graduates who work in the field and hold respected positions not only in the Czech Republic but also abroad. This is especially true for Slovakia, Slovenia, Great Britain, Iceland and Latvia. It is quite positive that we are in constant contact, thus receiving valuable feedback to be able to steer the further development of our studio.

Current tendencies and directions in the field – development of circus skills, tandem co-operation, intensified interest in the synthesis of related fields – theatre and special pedagogy, expressive therapy, penetration into the field of interpreting by deaf interpreters with acting training in theatre and Czech Television.