Bring the Bible Alive with ASL Classifiers Review

Bring the Bible Alive with ASL Classifiers

Video Review
by Kathleen Kelly MacMillan,
Maryland School for the Deaf

© 2003

Bring the Bible Alive with ASL Classifiers
Performed by Trix Bruce and voiced by Kenan Pekoz
LSCI Productions, 2003
VHS or DVD, 46 minutes, ASL, voice-over

This high-quality production shows a true artist in action. Trix Bruce of Seattle, Washington, who has long been popular as a workshop presenter and ASL performer throughout the country, brings her dramatic abilities to this production explaining the use of classifiers in ASL, with extraordinary results. Classifiers are among the most difficult aspects of ASL for many new signers to grasp; Bruce describes what classifiers are, and how to use them, in an astonishingly clear fashion, and connects them adeptly to the five linguistic parameters. She clearly explains the difference between simply using ASL and using classifiers in ASL, and offers some sound do's and don'ts for interpreters. Most enlightening, however, is Bruce's demonstration of the use of classifiers in storytelling, which makes all the descriptions extremely clear. Using five Bible stories as a springboard, Bruce walks the viewer through each one, explaining how she will use classifiers to represent various elements of the story. Then she signs the story straight through, and the benefit of using classifiers is made clear. There are also eight "Guess the Bible Story" segments, in which Bruce makes extensive use of classifiers to tell mystery stories. (The answers appear at the end of the program.) The production ends with Bruce telling the stories of the parting of the Red Sea and Noah's Ark. The stories are signed entirely with classifiers. Kenan Pekoz provides voiceover of all parts of the program except for when Bruce tells the stories without explanation, in order to focus the viewer's attention on the classifiers. The voiceover makes this production accessible to new signers as well as more experienced ones (though the timing is in some instances not exactly matched to the signing). This, however, is a minor quibble in an otherwise remarkable production. This production should be required viewing for all interpreters and students of ASL, as it gives the opportunity to see a truly gifted storyteller and instructor in action, and deftly explicates an area of ASL that is often hard to grasp, and even harder to describe. 

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