Deaf Person of the Month
Patrick A. Graybill
Actor, poet, storyteller
Patrick Graybill is a renowned actor, a master poet, storyteller, and teacher, and Roman Catholic deacon.
He's from Overland Park, Kansas, a family in which the parents were hearing but five of their seven children were Deaf. Everyone signed. He graduated from Kansas School for the Deaf in Olathe, and was inspired to pursue an acting career . . . and also loved storytelling. After graduating from KSD in 1958, he earned his B.A. degree in English at Gallaudet College in 1963. There was no Theater or Drama major, and Robert F. Panara encouraged him to major in English. After earning his Master's degree, he taught educationally deprived sixth-graders at KDES, but became disillusioned.
There was a Deaf community theatrical group in Washington—the Frederick H. Hughes Meorial Theatre—and he happily participated in its productions. He also studied for ordination at Catholic University's theological school, which was frustrating, as he had no support services. So he gladly accepted an invitation from the newly-founded NTD, joined the company in 1969, and spent 10 joyful years touring in over 15 productions. He also headed NTD's famed Professional Theatre School (Summer Program) for aspiring actors from 1971 to 1984. He taught for 23 years at NTID and participated in several productions, always bringing an inimitable grace and passion to his performances.
He was ordained as deacon in 1982, and served as Deacon of Rochester's Emmanuel Church of the Deaf for 32 years.
He has also performed ASL poetry, taught, given talks, conducted workshops, and participated in ground-breaking events, such as the 1984 workshop that brought together Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg and Deaf poets, in which Graybill delivered an unforgettable ASL rendition of Ginsberg's "hydrogen jukebox."
On February 4, 2017, NTID's Performing Arts Department officially named its green room (the actors' lounge/waiting room/snack area/library) in Graybill's honor—a complete surprise for him. The naming honors his contributions to NTID's Performing Arts program and his exemplary work.