Gil Eastman - a Profile

Cover of Sign Me Alice & Laurent Clerc: A Profile
Cover of Sign Me Alice & Laurent Clerc: A Profile. Photo Courtesy of PriceGrabber

One of my fondest memories from the 1980s is watching Gil Eastman on "Deaf Mosaic," a Gallaudet University-produced television program for the deaf. I did not know at the time how accomplished Gil Eastman was. He did so much beyond hosting the show.

Who Was Gil Eastman:

Gil Eastman was born in 1934 and passed away in 2006. He attended the American School for the Deaf (ASD), a founder of which was Laurent Clerc.

Eastman became fascinated with Clerc. After ASD, Eastman went to and graduated from Gallaudet College in 1957.

Gil Eastman's Contribution to Deaf Theatre:

At Gallaudet, Eastman acted in plays. After graduation, he established Gallaudet's theatre department. While building it, Eastman picked up a Master in Fine Arts in Theatre from Catholic University -- the first deaf person to receive this degree.

He taught drama and directed plays at Gallaudet, and worked with the National Theatre of the Deaf, which he helped found. In addition, Eastman enabled hearing people to enjoy deaf theatre when he developed the technique of having voice interpretation of sign language. He also invented Visual Gestural Communication to help people improve their sign language.

Gil Eastman's Plays and Books:

Eastman wrote plays, at least two of which were published in book form. Two plays he wrote, "Sign Me Alice" and "Laurent Clerc: A Profile," are available in book form.

He also wrote the book From Mime to Sign, a photo-illustrated book that demonstrates how expressions, gestures, and mime can lay a foundation for learning sign language.

Gil Eastman and Deaf Mosaic:

"Deaf Mosaic" ran for 10 years, from 1985 to 1995. Eastman was a co-host on the program, and his warm, friendly face greeted viewers at the start of each episode.

Gallaudet University has put the "Deaf Mosaic" episodes online as part of its Video Catalog.

More on Gil Eastman:

Gallaudet University's Archives has the Gilbert C. Eastman collection, a collection of six boxes of documents. Most of the content is about Laurent Clerc. Eastman was one of the deaf people featured in a Deaf Culture Autobiography series, in which he talked about his life. This DVD is still available from the producers, Sign Enhancers. In addition, Eastman wrote about what it is like to be deaf, in the book Just a Deaf Person's Thoughts.

Gallaudet University honored Gil Eastman by naming the black box theatre at the Elstad Auditorium the Gilbert C. Eastman Studio Theatre.


Manuscripts, Accessed February 2010.

Gilbert C. Eastman (1934-2006), Accessed February 2010.

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