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Children's Program Bios

Children's Program Emcee

Crom Saunders

Crom Saunders

Crom Saunders grew up in Northern California, graduating from California State University, Sacramento with a M.A. in Creative Writing. Crom has his own one-man show, “Cromania!” which tours internationally, featuring skits incorporating over 40 different characters, comedy, improv, and storytelling, now in its 9th year of bringing laughter to audiences all over.

Crom has also been gaining recognition online with his Clogs, his unique vlogs which have been viewed by thousands of people on YouTube and Facebook.

Crom first entered the world of performing and visual arts by being a co-founder of the improv-comedy theatre group, ICEWORM in 2000, and was a co-director of the ASL-accessible arts group, The Five Eyes Project, in 2012.

Crom also has interpreted dozens of plays, and has taught dozens of ASL linguistics and theatrical workshops across the nation. He currently teaches, and is Director of the Deaf Studies BA degree program at the ASL-English Interpretation Department of Columbia College, Chicago.

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Clay and Levi Anderson

Levi and Clay Anderson grew up in the small New Mexico town of Milan. They were the only twins in the town, and Levi was the only Deaf child. They tried as hard as they could to be saints, but unfortunately trouble always seemed to find them, and still does!!

They join us again in 2018 for the sixth time where they will perform in the Children’s program and act as Emcees for the SpotLights Main Stage.

Peter Cook

Peter Cook

Peter S. Cook is an internationally reputed Deaf performing artist whose works incorporates American Sign Language, pantomime, storytelling, acting, and movement. Peter has traveled extensively around the country and aboard with Flying Words Project to promote ASL Literature with Kenny Lerner since 1986. Peter has appeared in Live from Off Center’s “Words on Mouth” (PBS) and “United States of Poetry” (PBS) produced by Emmy winner Bob Holman. Peter is also associate professor for ASL-English Interpretation at Columbia College Chicago where he received the 1997 Excellence in Teaching award. In 1998, Peter set up a video production called PC Production and have been producing more than ten videos including the award winning video, ‘A Gator Ride to the Dentist’.

Peter was featured nationally in festivals such as the Jonesboro National Storytelling Festival, Oklahoma City Winter Tales, Illinois Storytelling Festival, Indiana Hoosier Storytelling Festival, Eugene Oregon Multi-Cultural Festival, and The Deaf Way II and the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Peter was invited to the White House to join the National Book Festival in 2003. Internationally, Peter has worked with Deaf storytellers/poets in Austria, Latvia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Italy and Japan.

Linsay Darnall Jr.

Linsay Darnall Jr.

Linsay Darnall Jr., is a versatile individual whose experience ranges from chasing cattle in western Nebraska when he was young to serving the National Association of the Deaf as a board member. His reputation as an eloquent speaker and an expert advocate for Deaf people's rights is held in esteem across the nation.

Born to Deaf parents, Darnall grew up in Polk, Nebraska. He and his brother attended their parents’ alma mater, Nebraska School for the Deaf in Omaha. He then attended Gallaudet University, where he studied government, before returning to Nebraska to continue his advocacy and community work.

Darnall has been heavily involved in the community for several decades. Among his experience is serving as vice-president of Nebraska Association of the Deaf for two years, president of Nebraska School for the Deaf Alumni Association for 17 years, and as National Association of the Deaf Region II board member for two years. He is serving on the Hands and Voices Board and Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Advisory Board. He also co-founded the Nebraska Deaf Heritage Museum and Cultural Center. His work with deaf youth and theatre was featured in the Omaha World-Herald. Darnall received the Outstanding use of American Sign Language award from the Gallaudet University Theater Department and The James Sowell Appreciation Award from Nebraska Association of the Deaf.

With an extensive knowledge of American history and deaf history, Darnall is renowned as a quintessential historian who is often fully clad in authentic period costumes during performances and lectures. His captivating, fluent storytelling creates unique learning experiences for school-aged children who use sign language. Guided tours at any historical site, especially Civil War battlefields, are also available.

Tammy Ellis

Tammy Ellis

Tamara “Tammy” Ellis is a nationally known Deaf entertainer. She first made her debut at various US schools for the Deaf and performed for audiences at Gallaudet University, Deaf Awareness functions and several Deaf Festivals across the country. Her performance captivates children and adults with mimic dialogue and improvisational skits that warm the hearts of every audience. She has built a reputation in the Deaf community with her performances and has worked with many renowned Deaf entertainers such as Peter Cook, Linda Bove, Chuck Baird, Bill Carwile, Phyllis Frelich, and C.J. Jones.

Tammy has performed at DeaFestival off and on since 1998 and we welcome her back in 2018 as she appears in the Children’s program.

Sean Forbes

Sean Forbes

Sean is a musician on a mission. An accomplished and passionate drummer, rhythm pours out of him, when he breathes, walks, types at his keyboard or hits his drums. Music is in his blood, his cells; it’s just the way he is. He’s also deaf – and out to build a badly needed bridge between the music industry and deaf people everywhere.

Sean grew up in Detroit where his parents, both musicians, filled their home with the sounds of the Motor City: Mitch Ryder, Bob Seger, the Funk Brothers and more. Despite losing his hearing as a baby, Sean soaked up the beats and the vibrations, experiencing great music in his own way.

Inspired by what he calls “The Three B’s” (the Beastie Boys, the Beatles, and Bob Dylan), Sean started out making music videos in his basement and today is producing professional music videos with a focus on the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. He is a voice for not only his generation but deaf culture. He is co-founder of D-PAN, The Deaf Professional Arts Network, a non-profit organization that focuses on translating popular artists' songs into American Sign Language music videos for the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities.

With his passion for music, Sean has opened the door to musical expression – a world historically considered off limits to people in the deaf community. His dream of music for all has helped to transform the way deaf people perceive music. Through his videos and his outreach to deaf people everywhere – particularly young people eager to feel included in popular culture – music is being presented to them as a beautiful symphony of thought and expression, available to all. The hearing community, too, is fascinated by his ASL translations of musical hits and is clamoring for more. Since 2008, Forbes has also performed in over 20 cities across the US and has appeared in front of over 15,000 people.

Sean Forbes is living proof that if you have enough passion and dedication, magic happens and dreams come true. “The world is run by those who show up,” he says, “And I’m showing up.”

www.deafandloud.com

Sandra Mae Frank

Sandra Mae Frank

Sandra Mae Frank is a trained stage and film actress, best known for her role as Wendla from Deaf West’s Spring Awakening. She is thrilled to be working at DeaFestival again!

BROADWAY: Spring Awakening

REGIONAL THEATRE: Fun Home, Fiddler on the Roof at Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma; Our Town at Pasadena Playhouse/Deaf West Theatre; At Home at the Zoo at The Wallis/Deaf West Theatre

(Asst. Director); Spring Awakening at Deaf West Theatre; Richard III at NextStop Theatre Company.

FILM: Soul to Keep and The Sound of Fear.

TELEVISION: Freeform’s Switched at Birth.

ADDITIONAL CREDITS:

  • 2015 Breakthrough Matlin Impact Award
  • 2015 BroadwayWorld LA Award’s Best Leading Actress in a Musical
  • B.A in Production/Performance from Gallaudet University, Theatre Arts Program.

Stay tuned for her upcoming movie, Entangled in selected theaters!

Instagram/Twitter: @sandy21mae; www.sandramaefrank.com

Rosa Lee

Rosa Lee

Rosa Lee is a performance artist known mostly for her YouTube ASL music videos, her work as a solo performer of The Rosa Lee Show, and as a lead actress in ASL Films’ feature film, Versa Effect.

Rosa Lee attended Indiana School for the Deaf and then went on to graduate from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) with a B.S. in Social Work. It was RIT where she discovered her love for acting. Rosa Lee founded and acted in an acting troupe named Dangerous Signs. Later on, Rosa Lee became recognized nation-wide for her ASL music videos featured on YouTube. Rosa Lee also worked as managing editor of the digital magazine, KISSFIST Magazine.

For 23 years now, Rosa Lee has been in several stage productions, performance troupes, television shows, and countless videos.

Rosa Lee also travels all across the country giving workshops/instruction on the art of ASL music, storytelling, and rhythm. Currently, Rosa Lee can be seen performing her one-woman variety show, “The Rosa Lee Show” where she plays different characters sharing stories, poetry while celebrating the beauty of American Sign Language. Rosa Lee also worked as an ASL Translator and Performer for Deaf Film Camp at Camp Mark Seven, helping make music videos that have gone viral nationwide.

Wink

Wink

Windell Smith Jr (otherwise known as Wink) takes his passion with him across the United States to promote American Sign Language, Deaf rights, humorous comedy shows, and his one man show “My Father’s Gift” which brings to life both the tragic, beautiful, and hilarious moments of both his own and his parents lives.

Wink is widely noted for the comfortable atmosphere he creates and the passion he exudes. Currently Wink travels full time performing, presenting workshops, and managing Winkshop, Inc, through which he has developed a dozen training DVDs.

For more information visit: www.WinkASL.com

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