Deafblind Circus, 1969 Film

Deaf-Blind Circus is a short film that documents students of the Perkins deafblind department putting on a circus for the community in 1969.

“Deafblind Circus,” is a short, Perkins-produced film that documents students and staff of the Perkins Deafblind Department putting on a circus in 1969. The film is 9 minutes long, shot in 16mm, in color, and includes sound. It is part of the series called “The World of Deaf-Blind Children,” which also includes the film “How They Communicate.”

The film was shot behind the Keller-Sullivan Cottage on the Watertown campus. The first deafblind circus occurred in 1967 but this was not filmed. The 1969 performance was open to the public, allowing the students to showcase their abilities to the community. It is described in the 1974 Perkins Annual Report as illustrating the need children who are deafblind have for social and group activity. The film was distributed for educational use.

The children made many of the costumes, props, and performed in the circus along with the teachers. The 1969 Perkins Annual Report states that the students in the Deafblind Department talked about this circus for a long time afterward. One student who was deaflbind, Chan Poh Lin wrote a poem about the circus, called “The Circus of 1969”,  which was published in the June 1969 issues of The Lantern. Poh Lin had neither spoken nor heard English before she lost both sight and hearing in Singapore.

The circus of 1969

By Chan Poh Lin

The shouting, laughing, screaming and crying sounded as bells ringing: It is heard, it is seen as fairies Dancing in the air as moving stars: A penny dropped on the child’s hand, His smile brightened as the sunshine: His little thank is always as a reward The child’s running with a gentle smile. It reminds its admirer as nothing so wonderful As the world is imagined in its sense: Fun is the day as it is But it fades away as a faded rose: O, day come, o, day come back as it never been a day before: There comes the cries as bells ringing forever. Please, don’t destroy my writing, Dr. Waterhouse, because it takes my whole thought. Sincerely yours, Poh Lin 


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