In an all-new episode of "Switched at Birth," told entirely in American Sign Language (ASL), the students at Carlton School for the Deaf protest to keep their school open. The ground-breaking episode, a first for a scripted series on mainstream television, will air Monday, March 4 at 8:00 p. m. ET/PT on ABC Family. The episode leads up to the series season finale which airs March 11.
In the episode Daphne (Katie Leclerc) leads the students of Carlton School for the Deaf in arranging a demonstration to protest the closing of their school. The storyline was inspired by the real-life "Deaf President Now" protests at Gallaudet University that took place 25 years ago this March.
Only the first scene and the last line of the episode are speaking, with every other line and scene told in American Sign Language (ASL)
Music will play a great part of the episode, almost making it another language. So how will music play into the episode?
We're going to play with it, but we don't know," executive producer Lizzy Weiss told Classic TV Examiner during a visit to the set last month. "I'm excited to do this cause we'll be learning as we go and I think we know that we don't want complete silence... The idea we have is that when he have music its the emotional take on what Daphne feeling, that literal and I think that's just fine.We talked about previous works that went silent like "The Artist" and we modeled what we could. What makes it exciting is that it's never been done."
The emotions of hearing student Bay (Vanessa Mariano) is factored in as well. Rock songs with harder guitar and lyrics are played in a scene where Bay is working on a piece of art that houses the message of the protect. Bay's a part of the school so she's a part of the protest Emmett tells her when Travis questions if the hearing students (Bay included) and the pilot program should remain if the school stays open.
Bay and Daphne clash as well when she feels Daphne should have backed her up when inclusion in the protest is questioned.
On how the death community is reacting to the show so far, Weiss couldn't be prouder. "We've hear from the death community and they are thilled to see characters and circumstances they can relate to," said Weiss. "The education that we're doing has never been done before. First of all and most importantly, these kids are just like everyone else. They're flawed and sometimes do terrible things and also interesting things ...they're funny and smart. But we're also giving an education about ASL. American Sign Language is an entirely different infrastructure than any other language.
The series stars Katie Leclerc as Daphne Vasquez; Vanessa Mariano as Bay Kennish; Constance Marie as Regina Vasquez; D.W. Moffett as John Kennish; Lea Thompson as Kathryn Kennish; Lucas Grabeel as Toby Kennish; Sean Berdy as Emmett Bledsoe; and Gilles Marini as Angelo Sorrento with guest star Marlee Matlin.
"Switch At Birth" airs Mondays on ABC Family.
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