Hometown Hero directs school play — entirely performed in sign language

Jessie Narkut, director of play in American Sign Language at Hubbard High School

WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – A Kent State Trumbull student is working with her high school alma mater to create a play for the deaf community — a group that can’t always enjoy the arts.

Directing a play of high schoolers in your second language can’t be easy. But Jessie Narkut accepted that challenge, directing Hubbard High School’s play of The Little Mermaid in American Sign Language.

“I just fell in love with it, I really love doing it. It comes naturally to me, it’s just everything to me,” she said.

A Hubbard grad herself, Jessie picked up sign language quickly when she took ASL classes from Rich Magazzine, a teacher there.

“She’s got the drive and the motivation, and I think that does make a difference between someone who knows something and someone who really just latches on and runs with it,” Rich said.

Now a student at Kent State Trumbull, Jessie came back to her alma mater to produce the play for the deaf community.

“This is a way in which she’s learning, she’s serving, she’s developing, she’s taking us into involvement with the community in exciting ways,” said Kent State Trumbull Dean Lance Grahn.

Jessie said the deaf community has entertainment options that will provide a translator for them, but it’s rare for the entire production to be catered directly to them.

“The deaf community is like a high school. Something happens at 8:00, the whole school knows by lunch time,” she said. “So a lot of people already know about this play and this production, so we’re excited to see who shows up and if we see any friendly and familiar faces.”