Kevin Campbell signs and 'tells' plays for the 0...

SUNDAY SNAPSHOTS

January 17, 1993|By Mary Corey | Mary Corey,Staff Writer

Kevin Campbell signs and 'tells' plays for the 0) hearing-impaired

Before the curtain goes up, Kevin Campbell has this ritual. He paces, stretches, then looks at his colleague and says: Break a finger.

That's sign language talk for "go for it." As a local pioneer in theatrical signing, Mr. Campbell is bringing the drama and pathos of performances to hearing-impaired audiences.

A Washington banker by day, he has devoted many evenings during the last five years to signing at colleges, fairs and theaters. Before each play, Mr. Campbell, 31, spends some 100 hours analyzing the script and rehearsing with an audiotape, often in his Federal Hill home.

Next week, he will be signing at the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre for the musical "The World Goes 'Round." (His performances are 8 p.m. Wednesday and 2 p.m. Saturday.)

His interest in signing was something of a fluke. Mr. Campbell, who happens not to be hearing-impaired, first studied signing in "a blow-off class" at Catonsville Community College but became enthralled by the beauty of the language.

Like any performer, he occasionally misses a cue. Most recently he found himself giving the sign for "sister" while referring to a male performer.

So far, though, only one theatergoer has complained. And that was a member of the hearing audience, who found his work bothersome and asked to be moved. More often Mr. Campbell gets praise from hearing and non-hearing patrons, he says.

Signing appears to have brought out the actor in him, and he plans to take drama courses soon.

"This lets me stand in front of an audience with confidence," he says. "But one day I'll be up there. Life isn't over yet."

Today's riddle: Her voice is heard more often than the most verbose state politician, yet she has no vote. She appears on television, but few ever recognize her. With one word or gesture, she can bring an important vote to a screeching halt.

Who is she?

Lynne Barney Taylor, reading clerk for the state Senate.

Since 1987, when she was appointed to the post, she has kept things running during the legislative session. It's her job to read aloud details about each bill. She operates the voting machine, handles the daily calendar and conveys news from the governor.

"Who was it -- Warhol? -- who said you get 15 minutes of fame? Mine is more like 15 seconds," says Ms. Taylor, 39, who lives in Bowie with her two daughters.

Although her job isn't dull, listening to the same political arguments is, she says.

And while her voice never gives out, her feet sometimes do, particularly since she also works as a research analyst with the Department of Legislative Reference.

Has seeing state government in action awakened any political aspirations?

"No," she says, not missing a beat. "It's a lot easier to be on the sidelines."

Have someone to suggest? Write Mary Corey, Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278, or call (410) 332-6156.

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