World premiere love story ‘Arrival & Departure’ features Deaf and hearing actors

Summarized by Amber Rottinghaus, staff writer

Once deemed “the most romantic film ever made,” the 1945 classic film Brief Encounter tells the story of two characters crossing paths at a British rail station and connecting as soulmates, despite their other commitments. However, they are forced apart, left only with the memory of an unconsummated affair.

A play adapted from the film had an impressive theatrical run at the Wallis Annenburg Center for the performing Arts in Beverly Hills back in 2014.

Now this memorable love story hits the stage again, in Arrival & Departure, written and directed by Stephen Sachs, who is taking the story to new, revelatory levels. It’s on stage now at the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles.

The reinterpretation tells the story of Sam, a Deaf man, and Emily, a hard of hearing woman, two married strangers who meet by chance in a New York City subway station. Their casual friendship evolves over the course of several meetings at a donut shop.

As they realize that the fates truly destined them for each other, they must face the changes in their lives, and their family’s lives, that would ensue if they pursued this any further.

The story also includes several parallel love stories; one between a Metropolitan Transit Authority cop and the part-Filipina donut shop owner, one between Emily and her husband, and finally one about Emily’s daughter and her explorations on teen meetup sites.

The entire production is accessible to both deaf and hearing audiences. The romantic couple’s exchanges in American Sign Language (ASL) are voiced by two additional actors more or less embedded in the crowd, and other spoken passages are displayed on open captioning screens.

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