Last week at a blocking rehearsal for Godspell, I got to the part of the script where one of the characters sings the ballad All Good Gifts, and I said to the cast that the choreographer would teach them the choreography for the song at some point. As the words left my mouth, I realized that this was one of the songs I had told the choreographer I would stage myself back when we discussed the music several months ago.
While driving home that night, I thought of how I wanted to stage the song. I saw the recent Broadway revival twice and remember the staging quite well, and have also seen clips of the original production. My take on Godspell is quite different from both major incarnations, and I wanted to come up with staging that wasn’t a take-off of either. Suddenly, it hit me: American Sign Language. I had discussed somehow incorporating ASL into the show with the choreographer a few days earlier, but we weren’t sure where it would be most appropriate. I started envisioning how the cast would sing, sign, and move around the stage. In my head it looked beautiful. The only problem is that (except for the standard alphabet) I don’t know ASL at all.
Luckily, a former student of mine signs with her church choir. I got in touch with her right away, and over the course of the past five days, she not only developed an ASL translation of the song and recorded a video tutorial for the cast to review, but she came to rehearsal today to teach the cast.
I have to say, the cast picked up the signs very quickly. I’m really excited to see how the song will come across in the production. Combined with what our lighting directing is going to come up with for this number, I have a feeling it’s going to be stunning to watch.