Open Call: Garrett Zuercher

JUL 11 – 13
A narrative performance presenting the prism of Deaf identity, created for Deaf audiences and accessible to all

Accessibility & Tickets


This production is performed simultaneously in both spoken voice and American Sign Language with English captions, with audio description on July 12, making this show accessible to all audiences.

Learn more about accessibility for this production.


Admission to Open Call events is free with a ticket reservation.

For sold out performances, an in-person wait list will be available 15 minutes before the show begins.

About this commission

Garrett Zuercher’s Inside/Look opens an empathetic window onto the diversity of Deaf identity and the unique challenges Deaf artists face. The narrative performance compares and contrasts the experiences of individual Deaf theater artists whom Zuercher has interviewed since November 2021, including artists with a range of experiences across nationality, sexuality, religion, other disabilities, and more. From these conversations, Zuercher created a script for a live stage performance featuring the original interviewees, who recount their stories and experiences firsthand.

Creative Team and Cast

A portrait of Garrett Zuercher, who sits on a bench along a city street. He has one arm propped on his knee and the other draped over the back of the bench. He wears a blazer over a floral print shirt and turn to look toward us. Photo by Jo Welch
Photo: Jo Welch.
Garrett Zuercher
Garrett Zuercher
Garrett Zuercher (he/him) is the first Deaf person to earn an MFA in playwriting from Hunter College. Along the way, he has garnered multiple awards and honors for his plays, including from the Kennedy Center for both Quid Pro Quo and Hard Places. His latest short film, Flirting (With Possibilities), made its world premiere in Paris in March of 2022 and continues to win prizes at festivals around the world for its peek into the dating life of a gay, Deaf man. As the founding artistic director of Deaf Broadway, he continues to produce and direct acclaimed all-Deaf productions of Stephen Sondheim’s seminal works at Lincoln Center, including Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, as well as Jonathan Larson’s RENT for this year’s edition of their American Songbook series. As an actor, he has performed in Broadway productions, on television, and in feature films. Dedicated to elevating authentic Deaf voices in the mainstream, he continues to advocate for awareness and representation.
Michelle Banks
Jackson Torii Bart
Stewart Caswell
Dynamic Captioner
Stephen Drabicki
MoMo Holt
Elbert “EJ” Joseph
Samuel Langshteyn
Felix Reyes
Voice Interpreter
Magnus Tonning Riise
Music Director and Pianist
Heba Toulan
Jazbel Wang
Voice Interpreter
Mark Weissglass
Voice Interpreter
Annie Wiegand
Lighting Designer

Learn more about the production

A Note from the Dramaturg

By Jackson Torii Bart

Inside/Look is devised from a series of interviews that Garrett Zuercher conducted with these six cast members over the course of nearly three years. But more than that, it is an invitation for an audience to view the inner workings of a Deaf rehearsal room and the shared experiences of a Deaf community. While the cast—as themselves, in their own words—share their stories of falling in love with theater, of struggling to find their place in a world built for hearing people, and of forging their own path forwards together, we the audience, whether hearing or Deaf, are actively invited to experience their joys, their hardships, and their creativity along with them.

Garrett Zuercher has made a name for himself with his company Deaf Broadway, which adapts classic musicals, written in English, to be performed in ASL. And as the first Deaf person ever to earn an MFA specifically in playwriting, Garrett has spent plenty of time writing his own original scripts in both English and ASL. Inside/Look, however, is a unique effort never seen before on this scale: a script devised from ASL interviews, where the English translation is only written after the fact. Rehearsal was held with both a printed English script and a video ASL script, each edited in unison over the devising process to line up the timing for Stewart Caswell’s phenomenal open captioning. Each interviewee was able to supervise and approve the transliteration of their own ASL words into English, for as any bilingual person knows, translation can be highly subjective and complex. With open captioning, ASL performance, and voice interpretation, there are three ways to absorb the text in two languages.

At one point in the show, while discussing being romantically approached, Michelle says, “They’re scared to talk to a Deaf person because… they don’t want to do something wrong. It’s not you, it’s them.” Out of a well-meaning desire to not mess up or offend someone, Michelle points out, hearing people inadvertently contribute to the strong feelings of isolation many Deaf individuals live with. Inside/Look invites the hearing audience to feel that discomfort, sit with it, and dare to engage anyway. Because the Deaf people in this performance, and far beyond it, have stories that deserve to be heard.

Inside/Look Glossary

Compiled by Garrett Zuercher and Jackson Torii Bart

Deaf (capital/Big-D): A self-identifying term that indicates connection to the Deaf culture and community. Can be used by those with total or partial hearing loss.

deaf (lowercase/Little-d): refers to the physical condition of the loss or absence of hearing.

Hard of hearing (HoH): A very broad descriptor that usually applies to a person with hearing loss that is not considered profound or total. Often used for someone with some residual hearing but missing some ability to hear in the normal range.

Hearing: refers to someone whose hearing is in the normal range.

Sign Name/Name Sign: A unique sign to represent a name in ASL. Usually does not denote how the name is spelled in English. Traditionally given by another Deaf person, though some people choose their own. Hearing people who are involved in Deaf culture may be given an identifying sign name by a Deaf friend or teacher. This is considered a great honor and often a sign (pun intended) that one has become part of the community.

Home Signs: Arbitrary gestures created within the home amongst family and close friends of a Deaf or HoH person.

American Sign Language (ASL): A sign language unique to the United States with its own unique grammar structure, incorporating established signs, visual gestures, facial expressions, and body language.

Signed Exact English (SEE): An exact, literal, word-for-word coding of English with signs, following English grammatical structure. Not a unique language in its own right. Often uses separate, invented signs for prefixes and suffixes (i.e. going would employ two distinct signs: go + ing) that are not considered part of ASL.

Pidgin Signed English (PSE): A blend of both ASL and SEE that is the most common register used in casual conversation, usually with ASL signs (omitting most prefixes and suffixes) but still maintaining a semblance of English grammar. Often, users will slide back and forth along the spectrum of the two blended languages even within one conversation, depending on what they are talking about and how they feel it should best be expressed. Inside/Look is primarily in PSE leaning towards ASL.

ASL-English Interpreter: A trained professional fluent in English and ASL who helps facilitate communication between those fluent in only one.

Deaf Interpreter: An interpreter who is themself Deaf and thus able to use their own cultural and linguistic experiences to ensure accuracy and accessibility of communication; often in tandem with a hearing interpreter. Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDI) undergo training and often specialize in specific areas like legal or medical interpreting.

Director of Artistic Sign Language (DASL): A separate role from the Director of a play, the DASL’s job is to oversee the use of ASL within the play. Often, their job is to ensure all translations serve the correct function in the world of the play and honor the original script. In the play within the play, Michelle is the DASL.

Lip-reading: a skill many Deaf and Hard of Hearing people use to follow spoken conversations. Notably much more difficult than as portrayed in popular media, but many Deaf people are forced by circumstance to become good at it. Only an estimated 35 percent of spoken speech is visible on the mouth at best; the rest is contextualized. It often quickly leads to great visual and mental fatigue as it requires a great deal of heightened focus and intellectual processing (filling in the blanks).

Hearing aids: Devices prescribed by an audiologist and worn in the ear to supplement residual hearing.

Cochlear Implant (CI): A surgically implanted device designed to reduce hearing loss by stimulating the auditory nerve. Getting a CI is a very personal choice for a deaf person. While some find them helpful, a significant portion of the Deaf community feels that they are unnecessary and harmful. The subject of placing CIs in children before they are able to decide for themselves is an extremely complex intra-community discussion.

Hearing rehabilitation: Rehabilitative treatment for hearing loss, usually in tandem with hearing aids or cochlear implants. Required to train the brain how to process new auditory input, often a very long and tedious process.

Speech therapy: Auditory verbal education focused on the ability to speak clearly. Conducted by Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) and traditionally designed for hearing children who have trouble with speaking unrelated to their hearing. When used for Deaf children, it is often an example of “oralism,” defined below.

Mainstreaming / mainstreamed: Encouraged or forced to assimilate into hearing culture. More specifically, in this piece, refers to attending a hearing school as the only or one of a few Deaf students. Access is usually minimal, and all courses are taught only in spoken English, sometimes with a sign language interpreter.

Captioning: Can refer to closed captioning, which can be opted-into by the viewer, or open captioning, which is visible to the entire audience. This performance is open captioned. “Subtitles” refers to translation between verbal languages, e.g. English into Spanish, which would not necessarily transcribe non-verbal audio like screams, music, or sound effects. Many people, including the characters in this play, however use “captions” and “subtitles” colloquially to mean the same thing.

Audism: Discrimination or bias based on one’s ability to hear. A form of ableism. A culture that is built to cater primarily or only to the hearing population.

Oralism: An approach to Deaf education that prioritizes the Deaf child speaking and lipreading (functioning as a hearing person) over the use of sign language.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): A law passed in 1990 that, among many other accommodations, requires that employers, businesses, and government provide equal access to the d/Deaf and hard of hearing.

Gallaudet University: A federally chartered university in Washington D.C., founded in 1864 as the first, and still today the only, institution entirely devoted to higher education for the deaf in the world. It is thriving today as a bilingual university (English/ASL) with full access for Deaf, HoH, and hearing students.

Deaf President Now (DPN): A student-led protest at Gallaudet in 1988 that led to the appointing of the first Deaf president of the university in its 124-year history.

Eyeth/Earth: A cultural pun in ASL about a world that is centered on the “eye” instead of the “ear,” imagining a world where everyone communicates in sign language.


Open Call Team

Alex Poots, Artistic Director
Darren Biggart, Director of Civic Programs
Dejá Belardo, Assistant Curator, Civic Programs and Visual Arts
Daisy Peele, Open Call Producer (Associate Producer at The Shed)
Christal Ferreira, Program Manager, Civic Programs and Visual Arts
Ben Young, Production Manager

Special thanks to Public Assembly (Tamara McCaw, Maggie MacTiernan, and Annabel Thompson) and to former program team colleagues who facilitated the call for proposals and selection process for the third edition: Solana Chehtman, Sarah Khalid Dhobhany, Alessandra Gómez, and Andria Hickey.

Open Call Production Credits
Stephen Arnold, Open Call Production Manager
Michael Ruiz-del-Vizo, Scenic Coordinator
DJ Potts, Sound Coordinator
Vittoria Orlando, Lighting Coordinator
Hao Bai, Video/Projection Coordinator
Cynthia Caridad, Stage Coordinator
Caren Celine Morris, Stage Coordinator
Ariana Michel, Stage Coordinator
A. Sef, Accessibility Consultant


Inside/Look was originally conceived and created as a final project for a course in the Rita and Burton Goldberg MFA Playwriting Program at Hunter College. As such, Garrett Zuercher extends his deep gratitude to Christine Scarfuto, Gregory Mosher, Dongshin Chang, Jesse Jae Hoon, Zoe Lasden-Lyman, Maya Lawson, and Jamie Rubenstein for their encouragement and support in the initial development stages. He would also like to thank James Caverly, Anna Gichan, and Neil Sprouse for their contribution to the development of Inside/Look.

Garrett is also grateful to IRT’s ASL Creative Development Series, who provided support for Inside/Look in the developmental stages. You can learn more about them at

Thank you to Miriam Rochford, Ann Barkin, Stephanie Feyne, Dylan Geil, and Rebecca Lockhart for their support and care as backstage interpreters for this work.

Location and dates

This event takes place in The Griffin Theater.

July 11 – 13
7:30 pm

The Shed’s Griffin Theater is located at 545 West 30th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues. View The Shed on a map.

For information about accessibility and arriving at The Shed, visit our Accessibility page.


  • Running time: 115 minutes
  • This production includes strong language and sensitive topics, including themes of suicide.
  • Late seating is not guaranteed and is at the discretion of house management.
  • This production is performed simultaneously in both spoken voice and American Sign Language with English captions, with audio description on July 12, making this show accessible to all audiences.



The Shed’s Griffin Theater has accessible seating. Please contact us in advance to discuss your needs and available options by emailing or calling (646) 455-3949.

Assistive Listening

Visitors may check out assistive listening devices at the entrance to the theater. A driver’s license will be held to check out the device.

ASL Interpretation

The piece will be performed in ASL with voice interpretation.

Audio Description

Audio description will be available at the Friday, July 12 performance. Audio description is delivered via the free Listen Everywhere app on your personal device with your personal earphones or headphones. To use the app, you must download the app and connect to The Shed’s free Wi-FI network, TheShedFreeWiFi. To find instructions on how to download and use the app, visit the Accessibility page.

Purchasing Tickets

The Shed’s online ticketing system includes the option to submit accommodation requests beyond the access points detailed here.

Contact Us

For questions or other requests, visit the Accessibility page, email, or call (646) 455-3494.

Thank you to our partners

The Sponsor of Open Call is
Support for Open Call is generously provided by

Additional support for Open Call is provided by The Wescustogo Foundation and Jody and John Arnhold | Arnhold Foundation.

The creation of new work at The Shed is generously supported by the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Commissioning Fund and the Shed Commissioners. Major support for live productions at The Shed is provided by the Charina Endowment Fund, with additional support from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

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