Alex Bryce is currently playing the role of Quasimodo in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” at The Arlington Players.
Bio: Alex Bryce (Quasimodo) is pleased to return to the stage in his TAP debut! Previous stage appearance was as Ty Williamson in Sordid Lives (DS). He has also assisted with set construction for many DS productions (Master Carpenter for Bachelorette, Boys in the Band, and ‘Night, Mother). Many thanks to Rich and Janet for this incredible opportunity, to Alden for his patience, to Aaron and Cara for interpreting and translation, and to John, the original Deaf Quasimodo. Representation matters!
For more information about “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” at The Arlington Players, click here.
Why is this production so important to you personally?
I’ve been volunteering with local community theatre in Northern VA for the last 5 years, usually with set construction and painting. I had one supporting role in Dominion Stage’s 2013 production of Sordid Lives. In general, it is rare to find acting opportunities for Deaf actors in community theatre, so when Rich Farella expressed interest in casting a Deaf actor as Quasimodo, I knew I had to jump on the opportunity.
As Quasimodo, my role includes signing music, comedy, and drama. I want to show theatre patrons and potential directors and producers that it is possible, with a little effort and flexibility, to incorporate Deaf talent in all aspects of production, from set building to directing to acting, regardless of show. Incorporating diverse perspectives can only improve theatre.
What does your character, Quasimodo want and need?
Quasimodo leads a lonely existence in his bell tower, with nobody but Frollo and his imaginary friends, the gargoyles and statues, for company. Quasimodo wants and needs the one thing that we all need—genuine human connection and kindness. That’s why he longs to leave the bell tower and join in the Feast of Fools, to experience life surrounded by other people.
What is your favorite line that you get to say in the play and why?
I have to cheat and list two. J Feel free to use both if you can, but if you have to pick one, use the first example.
“It’s nice, the two of us sitting.” This line is signed to Esmeralda in our first song together. It’s a significant emotional moment in the show where Esmeralda fully accepts Quasimodo as a friend, and Quasimodo basks in the warmth of Esmeralda’s affection, his first genuine human connection. Adelina Mitchell, who plays Esmeralda, has been wonderful to work with, and audiences react very positively to this moment.
“You can barely walk!” Quasimodo says this line to Phoebus as they bicker about who will save Esmeralda. I like the comedy timing behind this particular line, and this particular scene. Matt Calvert (who plays Phoebus) and I have a fun chemistry as we bicker onstage. Our bickering shows facets of Quasimodo’s personality, the hints of the person he could have been if he had opportunity to interact with people growing up.
What all is involved in coordinating your performance with that of Alden Michels who plays the role of Quasimodo’s voice?
It’s been a tremendous experience working with Alden, and I cannot thank him enough for all of his hard work and patience throughout this entire process.
First, I read the script, trying to develop a rough translation of the lines into American Sign Language (ASL). It is extremely important to note that ASL and English are two distinct languages, each with their own grammar, vocabulary, and syntax.
Then Alden and I work together to go through the lines (both spoken and sung) in the script to get an idea of how the lines flow, and to ensure that the tone in his voice matches the tone in my signing. Sometimes several English words can be said with a single sign, or a single English word needs several signs to express. So we have to work closely to figure out a good rhythm that works for both of us. This becomes particularly important for the music, as the tempo of the songs can change my translation—whether I have to speed up or change my signs for the fast notes, or if I have to elaborate my signs to fit the long notes.
Once we’ve become accustomed to each other’s speaking/signing paces, we have to work together with the director and the entire cast to develop cues for when I enter/exit the stage or when I start signing. Since I cannot depend on my hearing, these visual or tactile cues are extremely important to ensure that my lines aren’t delayed.
Please talk about a fun fact about you that people may not be aware of.
I love karaoke. To me, it’s like spying into people’s musical tastes. Hearing people have access to music everywhere – the radio, the background music in tv shows and movies, waiting rooms, clubs, theater, etc. I can’t always pick up on those pieces of music so I’m not always aware of the current music trends. At karaoke, I can get a sense of what music people like, the new and popular music, and classics songs that have stood the test of time. The karaoke lyrics also help me get a sense of the words and the beat of the music. After every karaoke session, I always come home with one or two new songs to add to my itunes.