Caustic Effect – An ASL Opera

“How is language seen, heard, experienced and understood?”

September 2022

Caustic Effect – An ASL Opera is a new work-in-progress by Monique Holt (Librettist & Director) and Landon Krentz (Artistic Director & Performer) that explores how language is seen, heard and understood by combining the movement, rhythmic structure and meter present in both Visual Gestural Communication (VGC) and music. This project is a unique collaboration between Deaf and hearing artists and combines VGC and music binding the story’s themes to our creative process.

Caustic Effect will have its first workshop performance presented in collaboration with Inside Out Theatre as part of the Nordic Bridges festival in September 2022 in Calgary, AB.

Nordic Bridges Collaboration

The Nordic community recognizes their countries’ sign languages as a basic human right by law – a stark difference to the realities in Canada. Nordic Deaf artists have the right to sign language interpreters that are completely funded and provided by their governments without any undue financial hardships. They have full access to professional theatre, acquire artistic training and are able to contribute to the cultural landscape of their countries. The fight for everyone’s right to express themselves in theatre has been the inspiration of Deaf theatre such as Riksteaterns Crea (Sweden), Teater Manu (Norway) and Teatteri Totti (Finland).

As part of the development process and collaboration with Nordic Bridges – a national arts and culture festival in Canada planned for 2022 – Deaf theatre artists from Sweden, led by Debbie Rennie, will mentor the core-creative team for Caustic Effect: An ASL Opera. This mentorship will be a combination of online sessions and an in-person series of performance masterclasses providing much needed theatre training access to Deaf artists in Canada.

Caustic Effect: Synopsis

In the ocean blue, the sun beams through the water casting crisscrossed golden light along the seabeds. Here, a Merbebe is born with the ability to communicate with all the marine life in his world with his singing hands – a gift not many merbebes have. The water creatures adore his sonorous hands and they fast become his best friends and teach him all the songs of the sea. This new ASL fairy tale follows the adventures of Merbebe and his journey of discovering and embracing the beauty of his gifts and his identity.

Creative Team

Artistic Director & Performer
Landon Krentz

Landon Krentz is a bilaterally profoundly Deaf artist who is completely bilingual in Sign Language (ASL) and English. As a Deaf artist, he brings a unique perspective to his roles as Director of Artistic Sign Language and an ASL performer for theatre. His work has allowed him to advocate for artists within the larger community so that Deafness is looked upon as a reflection of diversity and culture. As a result of his work, he has presented the Award of Merit for Inclusion and Access from the Western Institute of Deaf and Hard of Hearing in 2018. Currently, Landon is working on a Deaf-led ASL Opera, a bi-lingual ASL/ENG production, and a combined vertical ASL dance project that is being created as a theatre creator and performer.

Librettist & Director
Monique Holt

Monique ‘MoMo’ Holt, librettist of Caustic Effect. Her plays varied from the theatre of the absurd, short play, children’s fable, detective, and one-person show. Her works: Please UNtranslate Me (2020-present), Wag Tale (2018), Zeer Durr’s Locket (2008), Are Your Ears Blind? (Thesis: 2008), The Night Was So Hungry That Ate The Moon (2005), The Dark Room (2003), and The “OR”bit (1996 – Mabou Mines/Suite: Fellowship). She has helped others develop their plays and musicals: Snow Queen for trapeze/aerial piece for Inflight Theatre, Undesirable Elements: Inside/Out for Ping Chong + Co., Meat Expectations, theater musical for New York Deaf Theatre. She is one of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Company members. She is playing the Queen in Cymbeline, and currently filming in her home in New York City. July 2021 – she co-chaired the virtual festival: Deaf Short Play Festival for This year she directed Teenage Dick for Open Circle Theatre/Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Welcome to Hell for Transformation Theatre, and The Christians for Phamaly Theatre. She has a BFA in Acting from New York University and an MFA in Theater from Towson University. She is an Assistant Professor for the Theatre and Dance Program under the School of Arts & Humanities at Gallaudet University.




Dramaturg & Producer

Debbie Rennie

Mindy Drapsa

Camille Craig

Debi Wong


re:Naissance Opera

Inside Out Theatre

Artistic Sign Language