Bruce Hlibok

Actor, teacher, and advocate

Bruce Hlibok was an actor, poet, essayist, playwright, ASL teacher, and advocate, ASL/ITP/GED teacher and administrator, and doctoral tutor. In 1978, when he was 17, he became the first deaf actor to play a deaf character in a Broadway production—Elizabeth Swados’ musical, Runaways. He got rave reviews. Silent Dancer, his children’s book about his younger sister Nancy, was published in 1981. He founded his own theater company, Handstone Productions. Most of the 12 plays he wrote were produced in small theaters and public facilities. His one-man show, The Deaf-Mute Howls, based on Albert Ballin’s fictionalized memoir, was staged off-Broadway and in Paris and Amsterdam, a city he especially loved. His work was controversial—bold, unsettling, ahead of its time. In 1994, he returned to Broadway, playing John Singer in The Heart s a Lonely Hunter. Once again, he got rave reviews. It was his last role. He died of AIDS a month short of his 35th birthday.

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