Skip to main content

American Sign Language Students Perform Play About Depression, Suicide and School Violence Entirely in ASL

Mar 09, 2016 12:23PM, Published by Bryan Scott, Categories: Education




By Kelly Cannon | kelly@mycityjournals.com

Cottonwood - Holladay - Students at Skyline High School took on the difficult task of performing in “Bang, Bang You’re Dead” on Jan. 29 and 30. The play, written by William Mastrosimore, is about a school shooter and the ghosts of his victims. Other themes include depression, suicide and bullying. The subject matter alone makes the play challenging. However, this version is performed entirely in American Sign Language. 

 The student actors are all in ASL classes at the high school. The dialogue was performed in sign language with other actors providing the voice so all abilities could enjoy the play. Teacher Jody Linn Tolley explained her students needed practice “speaking” in ASL.

“The students need to take it to another level,” Tolley said.

The audience during the shows was divided nearly evenly between hearing individuals and the deaf community. In addition to the traditional applause at the end of the show, member of the deaf community raised their hands and shook them, the ASL sign for applause. 

Tolley learned about the play from her sister, Katie Leclerc, whose friend was one of the victims of the Columbine shootings in 1999. Leclerc performed the play when she was younger and described the experience to Tolley as a turning point in her life. Tolley and her students chose the play because of its strong themes of school violence and bullying.

“We talked about it and we decided we’re not going to make a play. We’re going to make a difference,” Tolley said. 

The play focuses on Josh, a young man who murders his parents and five of his classmates during a school shooting. While in jail, the ghosts of his victims haunt him, replaying times in his life where he was rejected, bullied and humiliated. The ghosts pester him, reminiscing of what they miss from their life, what they’ll never get to do now they’re dead and continually asking Josh, “Why me?” forcing Josh to confront the consequences of his decisions.

Each of the actors technically played two roles. Their main role was the character they act and sign for. The other role was providing the voice for other actors who were signing. For instance, Matt Smith acted and signed for the character Michael. Smith also provided the vocal dialogue for Matt, who was acted and signed by Sterling Kerr. The student actors therefore had to memorize both their signing lines and their vocal lines. 

Eighteen-year-old Jake Bergeson had the difficult task of playing Josh. However, Bergeson said he could relate to Josh in some ways. 

“I’ve been bullied before and I’ve felt alone,” Bergeson said. “I’ve dealt with depression so I know what it’s like to feel like it’s you against the world. What Josh does, it isn’t the right thing but I can understand.”

Bergeson said his favorite part of the production was working with his fellow ASL classmates. 

“It created this very strong bond that has been outstanding,” Bergeson said. 

Seventeen-year-old Jillian Garry played Emily, a childhood friend of Josh who is also one of his victims. Garry has been studying ASL for almost three years. 

“I really like acting and ASL is a lot about facial expression,” Garry said. “I thought it’d be a good thing to try.”

Because of the double roles the actors had to take on, Garry said the production was harder to grasp than most plays. On top of that, the subject matter was also difficult to tackle successfully. 

“It was very emotional and trying,” Garry said. “At the end of the play, nearly everyone is in tears.” 

Like Bergeson, Garry’s favorite part of putting on the production was getting to know her fellow ASL classmates. 

“We’re like a family,” Garry said. “Performing together is just icing on the cake.”  



  • HLAA2017 Convention

    06/22/2017
    09:00AM

    The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) invites you to attend the HLAA2017 Convention, the...


  • 2017 WJHS Fooball Program

    06/22/2017
    11:00AM

    West Jordan High school Football is putting together our 2017 football program and we are selling...


  • Adventure+Gear Fest

    06/22/2017
    12:00PM — 09:00PM

    The Adventure + Gear Fest at Snowbird is Utah’s largest interactive Mountain Recreation Festival ...


  • Shoot like a pro! Workshop will focus on landscape photography as well as travel tips for Utah an...


  • Get Out More Tour

    06/22/2017
    06:30PM

    Join BACKPACKER Magazine Ambassador, Randy Propster as he brings the pages of BACKPACKER to life....


  • HLAA2017 Convention

    06/23/2017
    09:00AM

    The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) invites you to attend the HLAA2017 Convention, the...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    06/23/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • 2017 WJHS Fooball Program

    06/23/2017
    11:00AM

    West Jordan High school Football is putting together our 2017 football program and we are selling...


  • Guided Hikes for Families

    06/23/2017
    12:00PM — 06:00PM

    Guided hikes for kids (and adults!) Come explore Snowbird’s lower mountain trails on these fun...


  • Yoga on the Mountain

    06/23/2017
    05:00PM — 06:00PM

    Enjoy a free 1 hr Mountain Vinyasa Flow class at Snowbird, hosted by And She’s Dope Too. Visit...


  • Meet other women who ride! Join WomenMTB and Bingham Cyclery for a women’s only no drop group rid...


  • Join us for a free “Run the Bird 5K” June 23th at 8pm, with a free kids 1K at 7:45pm! The run ...


  • Enjoy a film from the Wasatch Film Festival in the fresh air on the Plaza Deck. The Birdfeeder wi...


  • Mountain Bike Mash-Up Race

    06/24/2017
    08:30AM

    MidweekMTB Mash-Up is a XC mountain bike race with divisions for men and women in Pro, Expert, Sp...


  • HLAA2017 Convention

    06/24/2017
    09:00AM

    The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) invites you to attend the HLAA2017 Convention, the...


  • West Jordan Football Clothing Drive

    06/24/2017
    10:00AM — 02:00PM

    WJHS FOOTBALL PLAYERS WILL BE HOSTING A CLOTHING DRIVE FOR BIG BROTHER BIG SISTER OF UTAH. WE WIL...


  • Get Out More Tour

    06/24/2017
    10:00AM — 08:00PM

    Part of Adventure Week! Join BACKPACKER Magazine Ambassador Randy Propster as he shares trail-tes...


  • Adventure+Gear Fest

    06/24/2017
    10:00AM — 08:00PM

    The Adventure + Gear Fest at Snowbird is Utah’s largest interactive Mountain Recreation Festival ...


  • Wasatch Mountain Film Festival

    06/24/2017
    10:00AM — 09:00PM

    Returning to the mountains for a 3rd year, the Wasatch Mountain Film Festival has an all new line...


  • 2017 WJHS Fooball Program

    06/24/2017
    11:00AM

    West Jordan High school Football is putting together our 2017 football program and we are selling...


  • Yoga at the Tram

    06/24/2017
    11:00AM — 12:00PM

    Enjoy a 1 hr Mountain Vinyasa Flow class on Hidden Peak, hosted by And She’s Dope Too. Visit thei...


  • Guided Hikes for Families

    06/24/2017
    12:00PM — 06:00PM

    Come explore Snowbird’s lower mountain trails on these fun hikes led by one of our Snowbird guide...


  • Women’s Mountain Bike Clinics

    06/24/2017
    12:00PM — 06:00PM

    Bingham Cyclery and WomenMTB have teamed up to offer Beginner and Intermediate skills clinics to ...


  • Yoga on the Mountain

    06/24/2017
    04:00PM — 05:00PM

    Enjoy a free 1 hr Mountain Vinyasa Flow class at Snowbird, hosted by And She’s Dope Too. Visit...


  • Cool Air Concert

    06/24/2017
    06:00PM

    Jam out on the Plaza Deck on Saturday evening, June 24, with Snowbird’s Cool Air Concert Series. ...


  • theBRIDGE Church Grand Opening!

    06/25/2017
    10:00AM — 11:30AM

    Join us this Sunday at 10am @ the Daybreak Community Center in South Jordan, UT!


  • 2017 WJHS Fooball Program

    06/25/2017
    11:00AM

    West Jordan High school Football is putting together our 2017 football program and we are selling...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    06/26/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • 2017 WJHS Fooball Program

    06/26/2017
    11:00AM

    West Jordan High school Football is putting together our 2017 football program and we are selling...


  • Monday Family Night

    06/26/2017
    06:30PM — 08:30PM

    Pack a picnic and spend a summer evening exploring the diversity in our community. Enjoy soulful ...


  • 2017 WJHS Fooball Program

    06/27/2017
    11:00AM

    West Jordan High school Football is putting together our 2017 football program and we are selling...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    06/28/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • 2017 WJHS Fooball Program

    06/28/2017
    11:00AM

    West Jordan High school Football is putting together our 2017 football program and we are selling...


  • HLAA2017 Convention

    06/22/2017
    09:00AM

    The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) invites you to attend the HLAA2017 Convention, the...


  • 2017 WJHS Fooball Program

    06/22/2017
    11:00AM

    West Jordan High school Football is putting together our 2017 football program and we are selling...


  • Adventure+Gear Fest

    06/22/2017
    12:00PM — 09:00PM

    The Adventure + Gear Fest at Snowbird is Utah’s largest interactive Mountain Recreation Festival ...


  • Shoot like a pro! Workshop will focus on landscape photography as well as travel tips for Utah an...


  • Get Out More Tour

    06/22/2017
    06:30PM

    Join BACKPACKER Magazine Ambassador, Randy Propster as he brings the pages of BACKPACKER to life....


  • HLAA2017 Convention

    06/23/2017
    09:00AM

    The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) invites you to attend the HLAA2017 Convention, the...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    06/23/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • 2017 WJHS Fooball Program

    06/23/2017
    11:00AM

    West Jordan High school Football is putting together our 2017 football program and we are selling...


  • Guided Hikes for Families

    06/23/2017
    12:00PM — 06:00PM

    Guided hikes for kids (and adults!) Come explore Snowbird’s lower mountain trails on these fun...


  • Yoga on the Mountain

    06/23/2017
    05:00PM — 06:00PM

    Enjoy a free 1 hr Mountain Vinyasa Flow class at Snowbird, hosted by And She’s Dope Too. Visit...


  • Meet other women who ride! Join WomenMTB and Bingham Cyclery for a women’s only no drop group rid...


  • Join us for a free “Run the Bird 5K” June 23th at 8pm, with a free kids 1K at 7:45pm! The run ...


  • Enjoy a film from the Wasatch Film Festival in the fresh air on the Plaza Deck. The Birdfeeder wi...


  • Mountain Bike Mash-Up Race

    06/24/2017
    08:30AM

    MidweekMTB Mash-Up is a XC mountain bike race with divisions for men and women in Pro, Expert, Sp...


  • HLAA2017 Convention

    06/24/2017
    09:00AM

    The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) invites you to attend the HLAA2017 Convention, the...


  • West Jordan Football Clothing Drive

    06/24/2017
    10:00AM — 02:00PM

    WJHS FOOTBALL PLAYERS WILL BE HOSTING A CLOTHING DRIVE FOR BIG BROTHER BIG SISTER OF UTAH. WE WIL...


  • Get Out More Tour

    06/24/2017
    10:00AM — 08:00PM

    Part of Adventure Week! Join BACKPACKER Magazine Ambassador Randy Propster as he shares trail-tes...


  • Adventure+Gear Fest

    06/24/2017
    10:00AM — 08:00PM

    The Adventure + Gear Fest at Snowbird is Utah’s largest interactive Mountain Recreation Festival ...


  • Wasatch Mountain Film Festival

    06/24/2017
    10:00AM — 09:00PM

    Returning to the mountains for a 3rd year, the Wasatch Mountain Film Festival has an all new line...


  • 2017 WJHS Fooball Program

    06/24/2017
    11:00AM

    West Jordan High school Football is putting together our 2017 football program and we are selling...


  • Yoga at the Tram

    06/24/2017
    11:00AM — 12:00PM

    Enjoy a 1 hr Mountain Vinyasa Flow class on Hidden Peak, hosted by And She’s Dope Too. Visit thei...


  • Guided Hikes for Families

    06/24/2017
    12:00PM — 06:00PM

    Come explore Snowbird’s lower mountain trails on these fun hikes led by one of our Snowbird guide...


  • Women’s Mountain Bike Clinics

    06/24/2017
    12:00PM — 06:00PM

    Bingham Cyclery and WomenMTB have teamed up to offer Beginner and Intermediate skills clinics to ...


  • Yoga on the Mountain

    06/24/2017
    04:00PM — 05:00PM

    Enjoy a free 1 hr Mountain Vinyasa Flow class at Snowbird, hosted by And She’s Dope Too. Visit...


  • Cool Air Concert

    06/24/2017
    06:00PM

    Jam out on the Plaza Deck on Saturday evening, June 24, with Snowbird’s Cool Air Concert Series. ...


  • theBRIDGE Church Grand Opening!

    06/25/2017
    10:00AM — 11:30AM

    Join us this Sunday at 10am @ the Daybreak Community Center in South Jordan, UT!


  • 2017 WJHS Fooball Program

    06/25/2017
    11:00AM

    West Jordan High school Football is putting together our 2017 football program and we are selling...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    06/26/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • 2017 WJHS Fooball Program

    06/26/2017
    11:00AM

    West Jordan High school Football is putting together our 2017 football program and we are selling...


  • Monday Family Night

    06/26/2017
    06:30PM — 08:30PM

    Pack a picnic and spend a summer evening exploring the diversity in our community. Enjoy soulful ...


  • 2017 WJHS Fooball Program

    06/27/2017
    11:00AM

    West Jordan High school Football is putting together our 2017 football program and we are selling...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    06/28/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • 2017 WJHS Fooball Program

    06/28/2017
    11:00AM

    West Jordan High school Football is putting together our 2017 football program and we are selling...


  • 2017 WJHS Fooball Program

    06/29/2017
    11:00AM

    West Jordan High school Football is putting together our 2017 football program and we are selling...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    06/30/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • 2017 WJHS Fooball Program

    06/30/2017
    11:00AM

    West Jordan High school Football is putting together our 2017 football program and we are selling...


  • 2017 WJHS Fooball Program

    07/01/2017
    11:00AM

    West Jordan High school Football is putting together our 2017 football program and we are selling...


  • theBRIDGE Church Grand Opening!

    07/02/2017
    10:00AM — 11:30AM

    Join us this Sunday at 10am @ the Daybreak Community Center in South Jordan, UT!


  • 2017 WJHS Fooball Program

    07/02/2017
    11:00AM

    West Jordan High school Football is putting together our 2017 football program and we are selling...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    07/03/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • 2017 WJHS Fooball Program

    07/03/2017
    11:00AM

    West Jordan High school Football is putting together our 2017 football program and we are selling...


  • 2017 WJHS Fooball Program

    07/04/2017
    11:00AM

    West Jordan High school Football is putting together our 2017 football program and we are selling...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    07/05/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • 2017 WJHS Fooball Program

    07/05/2017
    11:00AM

    West Jordan High school Football is putting together our 2017 football program and we are selling...


  • 2017 WJHS Fooball Program

    07/06/2017
    11:00AM

    West Jordan High school Football is putting together our 2017 football program and we are selling...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    07/07/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • theBRIDGE Church Grand Opening!

    07/09/2017
    10:00AM — 11:30AM

    Join us this Sunday at 10am @ the Daybreak Community Center in South Jordan, UT!


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    07/10/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    07/12/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


 

 

 

Online Edition Holladay
Online Edition Cottonwood Heights
Follow My City Journals on Facebook
Advertise with us

 

City Journals 9500 South 500 West, Suite 205, Sandy, Utah 84070 801.254.5974