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By Daniel Curtin
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Families thronged to the Wellesley Library last Wednesday night to watch the exciting visual storytelling of Act!vated Story Theatre. Children made themselves comfortable on the floor of the Wakelin Room as the theatre group performed folktales in front of an oversized book that revealed a different setting with each turn of the page.
Kimberly and Dennis Goza started Act!vated Story Theatre 30 years ago and have been touring nationally for many of those years. What is unique about the Act!vated Story Theatre performers is that they incorporate sign language into their productions to make them more accessible to hearing-impaired individuals. Kimberly Goza knows the kids watching the show are captivated by the different hand movements, as well. The use of sign language also serves as a lesson to be inclusive of others.“I was learning sign language when we started our theatre company and all of my friends who [could] hear were finding out I was learning sign language and would say, ‘Oh I love sign language. When I go to a show and there is an interpreter, I watch the interpreter.’ All of my deaf friends were saying ‘I have to watch the interpreter.’ So we thought, why not put them both together,” Goza said.
For his part, Dennis Goza writes the music and adapts the folktales to work on the stage.
“We try to keep surprising people and ourselves,” Goza explained. “We keep challenging ourselves to come up with new things.”When the two perform, they have to play many different parts, from monkeys to hat sellers to horses. The performers made about 12 different costume changes during the course of the show - but it varies depending on the particular story.
Carrie Preston was with her five year old and two year old in the audience watching the show. “It was great fun, and it was nice to see kids using their imaginations,” Preston said.
“It was great. It was a lot of fun,” said Oscar Remedios, who was in attendance and appreciated that it encouraged kids to be active. “Acting the things out really connects with the kids. It was good to see the kids and audience participate.”
Kimberly and Dennis Goza will be performing in the New England area through the end of October before heading south for the winter.