Actress shares experiences with deaf parents

February 15, 2009 7:27:47 AM PST
"What does the sun sound like" is a one-woman play about growing up in two worlds, hearing and deaf, which is something many children of deaf parents struggle with.For the last six years, Arlene Malinowski, an award-winning actress, playwright and hearing daughter of deaf parents has been traveling across the country sharing her life experiences with her audiences.

"It's about growing up in two cultures about knowing the deaf culture, and then becoming rebellious and escaping from the deaf culture into the hearing world and not connecting the two until I got older and realized that my life is part hearing," Malinowski said.

Growing up with a younger sister who is also hearing, Arlene knew her parents were deaf.

"But I didn't know what deaf really meant. I knew that they couldn't hear. I knew that they communicated with sign language but really the impact of that," she said.

Arlene feels she lives in two different cultures.

"I know with hearing people, they look at me and they think, 'Wow you're so big,' and in the deaf world, my facial expressions, my body movements are appropriate," Malinowski said.

Arlene's gift for storytelling comes from her father and the deaf community.

"When I would go to deaf club, I would be fascinated by the storytellers, and when I got older, I started telling the stories about my family, at bars or at kitchen tables, and a director came up to me and said you really need to write that. And I thought, a solo show, a one-woman show is the perfect thing to celebrate that story," said the actress.

Arlene's final performances of "What does the sun sound like?" will be at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater Sunday and Monday night at 7:30 p.m. The show is part of Access Project's Crip Slam series.

"I'm just going to retire that show. I'm making the show into a memoir, and I have got a new show that I'm going to travel with," she said.

"I have been very lucky with this show. This show has just opened up my acting career, my writing career and really has opened up my heart to my parents," said Malinowski. "I hope that the audiences leaves knowing my family a little bit and knowing that my parents raised their children the same way that hearing parents raise their kids."

The Victory Gardens Biograph Theater is located at 2433 North Lincoln Ave. in Chicago. Tickets are $10 and $20 dollars. For more information, go to