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Trix Bruce: Deaf Performer Following Her Dreams

By Rachel Cain, staff writer

Patricia “Trix” Bruce developed a case of meningitis that caused her to lose her hearing when she was only 6 months old. She doesn’t use any form of hearing aids, since those don’t help her. She is the only member of her family who is deaf. She has had years of speech therapy, but her speech still is not perfect. She faced lots of challenges growing up with her deafness. However, Trix Bruce has remained dedicated to her dreams in spite of her challenges. Today, Trix Bruce is an American Sign Language (ASL) poet, storyteller, actor, interpreter, and author. As she’s written on her blog, “I conquered my own doubts and rose up after my stumbles, and now I am, by my own definition, successful.”

Trix faced many challenges as a deaf individual during her adolescence. During a televised interview, she said the “biggest challenge or barrier were the misunderstandings I faced. Every time I thought I understood something, things would mess up, and I didn’t understand what was going on.”

During her freshman year of high school, however, she discovered her niche: acting. She fell in love with the art of drama during her freshman year, when she played the part of Helen Keller in a school performance. Trix continued to participate in acting activities all throughout high school and college.

After her high school graduation, Trix attended the National Technological Institute for the Deaf (NTID). Previous to her time in college, Trix hadn’t had any exposure to ASL. She had grown up learning gestural language and was later placed in a program that focused on speech training, and then into total communication. At NTID Trix met the deaf actor Patrick Graybill. He encouraged her to learn ASL so she would be able to incorporate it into her role as a performer.

Learning ASL was a great step forward in Trix’s life. After NTID, she attended the Rochester Institute of Technology. There, she was able to practice her ASL skills while subbing for an ASL professor. She started to blend her knowledge of ASL and drama, incorporating her background in gestural language with the technicalities of ASL. After graduating from college, Trix started running workshops for ASL interpreters. Her workshops focus on ASL performance, role shifting, and semantics. In order to help as wide an audience as possible, Trix has produced over a dozen DVDs. These DVDs feature more than just her workshops. Trix also has DVDs with ASL poetry and folktales, as well has her own personal stories about life as a member of the deaf community.

Today, Trix travels across the United States and pursues her dreams of being a performer. She has a one-woman show in which her enthusiastic personality to shines through her ASL storytelling. For Trix, the most rewarding part of every performance is seeing her audience laugh.

Her favorite audience to perform for is deaf children.

“I love watching them as they break through their shyness and come up on stage, standing in front of the audience and sharing their stories just like me,” she said in an interview with The Silent Grapevine. “These young Deaf performers gain confidence in themselves and put big smiles on the faces of their amazed teachers.”

In Trix’s ASL poem “Butterfly,” she compares herself to a caterpillar growing into a butterfly. Trix has had to endure challenges, learn how to cope with her deafness, and discover her place in the world. However, she has developed and matured into a butterfly. She has grown into her beautiful self, an inspiration for other members of the deaf community.

To learn more about Trix Bruce, visit her website here and her blog here.

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