“I grew up going to the theatre. Theatre has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.”

Beth Given is the development director for Portland Stage. Not only is she passionate about theatre, she has a true passion for finding ways to help others discover theatre as well.

Three years ago she formed a partnership with Pine Tree Society’s Sign Language Interpreting team to provide ASL-interpreted performances for Portland Stage.

“It’s an important part of our community engagement efforts and helps us reach a more diverse audience base,” she said. Portland Stage focuses ASL-interpreted performances on family friendly productions like this year’s holiday show “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.”

Photo by Aaron Flacke.

“Last year, a friend came to our ASL-interpreted holiday performance with her four-year-old son,” she continued. “He has cochlear implants and it was a magical experience to watch him experience theatre for the very first time.”

Maura Nolin is the director of interpreting services at Pine Tree Society. For her, this is a great opportunity for people in the deaf community to have the chance to experience a classic story performed live.

“We’re thankful to have the opportunity to partner with Portland Stage to provide this service for the deaf community. It’s not often that people in the deaf community have the chance to experience live theatre this way.”

Pine Tree Society will also provide ASL-interpretation for a special school performance of this holiday show.

For Noel Sullivan, Pine Tree Society’s president and CEO, the partnership with Portland Stage aligns with the organization’s vision of providing opportunities for Maine people with disabilities to connect with the community.

“Pine Tree Society works every day throughout Maine to help people with disabilities live fuller, more socially connected lives,” he said. “Our work to bring performing arts to those who otherwise would not have the opportunity is another example of this commitment.”

In addition to adding ASL-interpreted performances, Portland Stage has a hearing loop system and has received a grant to provide open captioning at performances throughout the season.

The ASL-interpreted performance of “It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” will be held on Sunday, December 8th at Noon. A limited number of complimentary tickets are available via Pine Tree Society, and advance reservations are required. Please contact Tim Wilbur at twilbur@pinetreesociety.org or 207-386-5974 to reserve seats.

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