ImaginASL Performing Arts strives to entertain, educate, and unite the Deaf and hearing worlds with rich unique artistic, cultural, and theatrical experiences full of American Sign Language.
Imagine going to a foreign film – the kind with sub-titles at the bottom of the screen. But this time, those subtitles are not in front of you – they’re projected on the wall to your right. You have to turn your head away from the picture to read the dialogue. Frustrating, right? That’s what many Deaf theatre patrons experience when they attend live theatre with sign language interpreters placed off to the side of the stage. They can see the dialogue, or they can watch the action on stage – but they can’t usually see both (even in special seating sections). The small theaters in town do not offer translation services for the Deaf. Shows at the Performing Arts complex offer translation services for certain shows but as noted above, it is a frustrating experience.
The local Deaf community, their friends, family, and others want live entertainment choices and are tired of having to choose between the action or the interpreter. Seeing an opportunity to serve the Deaf community. Nicki Runge has chosen to step up and bring live entertainment to the deaf community in their language, American Sign Language.
ImaginASL aims to produce theatrically challenging work of the highest quality, drawing from as wide a range of the world’s literature as possible; to perform these original works in a style that links American Sign Language with the spoken word; to seek, train and employ Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing artists; to offer our work to as culturally diverse and inclusive an audience as possible; to provide community outreach activities that will educate and enlighten the general public, opening their eyes and ears to Deaf culture and building linkages that facilitate involvement in our works of art.
Deaf people in the Rocky Mountain including Colorado, Wyoming, and eastern Kansas & Nebraska have few options for live theater entertainment.
We play a supportive role within the theater community by promoting full access to deaf and hard of hearing audiences to theater as an art form. We often offer sign language theater experts to work with companies around the U.S. to provide hands-on assistance for their productions. Nicki was amazed to learn about over 16,000 Deaf people in the Front Range urban corridor alone. Between Deaf community, their friends, family, and others that have interest or know ASL (not a requirement) there are an estimated 56,000 potential patrons to fill our small houses and short run!
Nicki has already sold out shows that she produced for Project DOVE (Steel Magnolias) and the Rocky Mountain Deaf School ("Beauty and the Beast”, "Snow White, "The Seven Dwarf", and "Diary of Anne Frank".) There is a long list of her experiences she could share including the Deaf West Theater and the National Theater of the Deaf.
She wanted to start a Deaf Theatre Company to give the Deaf Community a theater option where they are the focus, not cast to the side. She was tired of going to see live theater and having to choose to see the action or the interpretation but she couldn’t watch both. ImaginASL Performing Arts incorporates ASL sign and spoken English directly into the productions that way everyone can enjoy the show.
Nicki made the Rocky Mountain Deaf Theatre her home between 2011 to 2016, and wore many different hats for this company these day. She can be seen acting on stage, assistant directing, free director for non profit organizations, stage managing, and teacher of Drama and American Sign Language from preschool through adults, just to name a few. Nicki hopes to build on the success of the Rocky Mountain Deaf Theatre with her own Non-Organization ImaginASL Performing Arts! Her current goal is to build their own stage to continue to share Deaf talent and passion for theater with many more audiences who are sign language interpreters, sign language students, and deaf to come.