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Betty Beekman, Executive Director of the National Theatre of the Deaf.

Theatre of the Deaf Returns

Betty Beekman, Executive Director of the National Theatre of the Deaf.

The world-famous National Theatre of the Deaf has appointed a theatre veteran as its new executive director and has opened its a new main office in New London at Monte Cristo Cottage, the former summer home of playwright Eugene O’Neill. The group’s drama activity will be centered at the Eugene O’Neill Memorial Theater Center in Waterford, where NTD began in 1967.

From 1983 until this year, the group was based in Chester with another office in West Hartford at the American School for the Deaf.

Dr. Harvey J. Corson, chairperson of the NTD Board of Trustees, announced that the board selected Betty Beekman as the new Executive Director effective July 1. Beekman has been serving as interim executive director during the past, transitional year.

“The NTD board is delighted that such an experienced, talented and dedicated theatre professional as Betty is now officially leading our cherished organization,” said Corson.  “She proved herself during the past year by increasing the quality of our theatrical performances, increasing the number of bookings, and bringing back some of the ‘magic’ the NTD displayed during its best eras.”

Beekman, a child of deaf adults, has played a key role in many creative areas and as part of the NTD management team.

“I am excited about the opportunities we see for NTD to bring its unique brand of entertainment and enlightenment to more audiences, deaf and hearing alike,” Beekman said.  “We certainly believe that as an acting troupe dedicated to audiences ‘seeing and hearing’ our plays and performances, and the surge of interest in sign language in primary, secondary, and college venues provides us with a bright future.”

During the time that NTD was based in Chester, she was responsible for the community sign-language program and also created curriculum, taught courses, and performed workshops at several colleges and universities. Over the years, the NTD deaf and hearing actors and actresses, directors, and cast members have created a new dramatic art form, coupling both the eye and the ear.

Beekman developed and directed Stories In My Pocket and Stories In My Pocket Too for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 national tours of the Little Theatre of the Deaf.  She recently directed the piece performed by LTD in their appearance on the BBC “Planet Word” as well as directing a piece for the 2011 Lincoln Center Summer Festival.  She taught sign language techniques at the NTD Professional Theatre School.

For more information about NTD/LTD log on to www.ntd.org