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You Are My Sunshine
February 27, 2018
You Are My Sunshine was performed February 27, 2018 in Neely Auditorium by Terry
Galloway. It was a one woman show that addressed Galloways real world lived experience as a
deaf person and her journey into regaining functional hearing while looking at the challenges
that she faced throughout her journey. She discusses her experience as a deaf person while
also providing a broader conversation about the greater issue of disability and societys view of
disability and the cure. The dialogue is between students Brendan Finnerty, Tony Teng and
Ziyi Liu. Brendan Finnerty is a sophomore from Port Washington, NY who is studying HOD and
Political Science. Ziyi Liu is a senior from San Jose, CA studying HOD. Tony Teng is a senior
from Nanjing, China and is studying Physics.
We discussed her performance two weeks later after Spring Break.
Ziyi: What about the production did you find most interesting?
Tony: There was always a person doing the translation of the sign language. It is the first time I
have ever seen a translator of the sign language in a play. That was very interesting.
Ziyi: I was actually wondering whether that person was the performer. At the beginning, I wasnt
sure who was who, because we did not see the actual person came onto stage until later.
Brendan: It was funny seeing Terry walking with the beer cans on her ankles making as much
noise as possible. That kind of alarmed me.
Ziyi: Yeah that was got off to a fast start.
Z: Thats true But it kind of establish her character
Brendan: That tied into the blount humor that she had for the entire show.
Ziyi: Yeah, she was…something else. I did not know what I expected going in, necessarily, but
that was not it.
Brendan: Yeah, you see a title like You Are My Sunshine, and you think its going to be
Tony: I think its the name of an old song right?
Tony: When I saw the title of this play, You Are My Sunshine, I thought it would be a romantic
Ziyi: It in some ways was a romantic story though, because of the romance between her and her
Z: There is definitely an underlying love story in this play
Brendan: It is something you dont realize until the very end, and you think, Oh, thats why its
called You Are My Sunshine
Ziyi: And I didnt know – and I still dont know – if she can hear. It was left unsettled whether she
got it replaced or she was still using the one that might break.
Tony: It was kind of like an open-ending.
Brendan: Yeah, it was up to your interpretation.
Z: Open ended always seems to aggravate me, mainly because there’s never clarity in what
actually happened, it kind of makes you want to ask the producer his intentions
Ziyi: How would you describe the acting/design to someone who had not seen the production?
Brendan: In terms of the acting, if I were to explain the performance to other people, I would
note that its different from an actual play or musical that people usually think of because it was
a one-person performance.
Tony: Yeah, there was no lighting design or music, also there were few stage props. Just one
person stood there talking and performing.
Z: I agree with Brendan, it does not give you the feel of a cliche play at all
Ziyi: Yeah, definitely, she was the center of attention. They got a little fancier till the end, doing a
little spotlight thing at the end. But it was a pretty loud performance. She was starting off super
loud, pretty irritating noise to hear.
Tony: She was doing that to emphasize the fact that the woman she was acting was deaf and
having some disabilities in hearing. In the play, she performed exaggeratedly. That is the key to
theatrical performance in my mind.
Ziyi: It was really physical.
Brendan: Yeah, definitely.
Ziyi: Well, one of the interesting thing is that she was barefoot the whole time too.
Brendan: Yeah, that was also kind of funny.
Ziyi: Does this story remind us of other stories we have encountered in other forms like novels,
Z: *laughter* I don’t watch much TV so you guys take this one.
Brendan: She kind of reminds me of a Melissa McCarthy type of character – an outlandish
woman thats very lively.
Ziyi: She has a lot of energy about her.
Brendan: A lot of humor, too.
Ziyi: Yeah. I do not know if you all share this opinion or not, but the story seemed pretty distinct,
in terms of the angle that she was approaching from, the story setup and the entire story itself.
Tony: So why this production now? Why this production here?
Brendan: I think she hit some social topics, such as when she was talking about the cure for
hearing being very expensive and having to get it through Medicaid, she said something along
the lines of, Im a lesbian playwright, theyre not just going to hand that over to me. She also
mentioned why she was so opposed to the cure for hearing, saying how everyone is so
obsessed with fixating on someones disability, and labeling them as unable to be more than
Ziyi: I thought that was the most compelling part of her story. Yes, she is deaf, but at the same
time she struggles with what that means, especially after regaining hearing with the implant. I
think she struggles a lot with what it means – or meant – to be deaf.
Brendan: The whole story, up to that point, kind of seemed to be just a story of her. She lost her
hearing, and then gained it back, and youre expecting a happily ever after ending, but that
wasnt the case. For her, she had some second thoughts about regaining her hearing.
Brendan: Its difficult now for her being better and no longer having to worry about being
disabled, and to keep from forgetting what it was like to be deaf, and also to help out those who
are disabled, because its easy for her now to say Well, thats not my problem anymore.
Ziyi: I wonder too about – because shes performing her own story herself alone on stage – about
the pros and cons of performing it herself as opposed to having someone else perform it for her,
because even though its her own experience so she knows whats up and whats going on, at
the same time Id be pretty vulnerable to let my experience just go out there with judgment.
Brendan: Thats very true. It makes it a lot more personal, and it also makes sense for a oneperson performance to be biographical, because it makes it easier to express her character
since its just her.
Tony: I found this performance to be the most interesting one Ive ever been to. I could feel the
emotion of the character as she was acting, and it was interesting because there was no
background music. She was just sitting there telling her story, and I could feel her helplessness,
sadness, happiness – whatever emotion she had.
Brendan: Yea it just shows you dont need all the extra music and choreography to convey a
message of emotion. Sometimes being straight to the point is all you need.
Ziyi: I think with stuff like music, its as much a cue to be emotional, but its also a trigger.
Whenever you hear music in a show, whether it fits or not, its going to do something to you. I
think it does at least. It wasnt just the sense that she was performing, but that you could really
feel what she was expressing.
Ziyi: There werent many students there, right?
Tony: I cant remember I think just a few.
Ziyi: Yea, it definitely wasnt full.
Brendan: Yea there werent many there.
Ziyi: It was definitely a unique experience. *Turns to Ziyi* Was there a particular reason why you
thought this was one of the best performances youve ever seen? Other than the ones youve
talked about, was there anything personal that resonated, or something else?
Tony: I think I was just moved by the performance, basically.
Brendan: It was definitely the most unique performance Ive ever seen, and for that reason itll
definitely stick in my mind, and it was definitely an unforgettable show for me.
Ziyi: It was interesting seeing the next day – I think it was the next day – Lady MacBeth and Her
Pal, Megan and the different take, but also a lot of similarities in their performances and the way
they approached it.
Brendan: And how they relied on props to dictate the scene. And even in the storytelling they
were both biographical and were able to weave in themes and symbolism to grab the audience
and make it more spiritual.
Ziyi: Ive definitely been more of a movie type of person, its been my preferred medium
especially coming into this class, since Id only seen 2 or 3 performances on-campus and even
fewer outside of this environment. Theatre is such a different way of telling a story, and although
its difficult to create a movie, its also exceptionally difficult to go on stage by yourself and put
Brendan: Yeah, exactly.
Tony: Was there anything we didnt like?
Brendan: Some of the sudden loud noises were kind of a lot for me, but I think that was just
inherent for the performance. That is one of the things that makes it so different than other
Ziyi: Also the sound. It was just sometimes too loud for me.
Tony: I guess everything we see has a message and at certain points, maybe I agree with this,
maybe I dont.
Tony: Which I think is part of the point too, just to get the audience thinking, and I think thats
probably why they had her come in and do the show, just to get people thinking about disability
especially and how that relates because I dont personally interact or very rarely interact with
people with physical disability as apparent as being deaf and other things too. I dont think I
have thought too much about what it means to be disabled, or not be disabled.
Brendan: Its hard to remember to help those who are disabled or relate to them since we dont
have it ourselves. Its something we often forget about. Its something to which we sometimes
dont pay attention.
Ziyi: Its kind of common for us to hear others talking but this is kind of the most difficult thing to
Tony: It helps build empathy for their experience. Its a perspective and its a lot different than
having a conversation with someone who is deaf or has an implant. Its such a different way of
approaching it because it is a performance and is not just a conversation, or a news program, or
60 Minutes, or something you see on TV. Its also not done as part of some great package – the
issues of access and building ramps and doing other things. This is an individual story that is
specific and not just a numbers-based policy issue.
Brendan: Its like a case study where you just see one persons story, and it makes it so much
more personal than just hearing about a statistic.
Tony: So I thought this was the best part and the worst part. The perspective is challenging, a
lot of things I learned, some things that Its also tough since its been a while, its after break
and not super fresh in my mind, so criticism fades away pretty quickly. The critiques I have at
any moment during any production…I can hate a movie halfway through, but if it ends well, Ill
say, That was a good movie.
Tony: I thought it had a message and the message had heart and that was strong for me.
Ziyi: Do we want to do last thoughts?
Brendan: Going back to the question of Why this now?, the performance was very important,
and it needed to be, considering all the events going on in the world that people just ignore. For
this case, the issue was disabilities. This is one of those topics where you need to deliver the
message and be straight to the point. Its not going to be a nice story and its not going to be
sugar-coated. This is what she wants everyone to know. I think, for that, it was a very strong
performance and delivered many messages including that, and it was a performance that I think
no one who watched is going to forget.
Ziyi: The story was unique in the way it was produced, put together and assembled. It is
something that I havent seen before and well see if I ever see anything quite like it. The two
biggest messages I got out of it were the disability pieces and understanding – or at least having
some more empathy – for her experience and getting more experience through her from what
we saw and heard. But also, memory is really weird. She was deaf for a really long time and its
something I cant imagine ever forgetting if I were her, but its amazing how after getting this
implant and having this life changing moment, the past fades and it doesnt seem as real
anymore. It could be that that is the past and now were here and the past experience doesnt
matter anymore, but I think shes trying to hold onto that and keep from forgetting that she was
deaf and the experience and difficulties that came with it, the really amazing thing that came
from it. That was the strongest part of it.
Tony: When she sang the song at the end, the You are my Sunshine song, it was not a
romantic story, so she just sang that to her implant I guess. This implant gave her a new life, a
completely new life and is an open ending so I dont know whether she regained her hearing
after that. I think that was clever to do that because it will make us think about that and build up
our own story about her afterwards.
Ziyi: She wasnt just some deaf lady that talked to us and now shes better. Shes a deaf woman
who had this experience and is going to continue to have this experience for the rest of her life.
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