Hands Up Silent Theatre is inspired by the personal life experiences of Kristy Whilden and her daughter Hailey. Hands Up Silent Theatre located in southern New Jersey has produced seven theatrical productions along with several dozen community events and educational programs over the past four years.
The program has had over five hundred students and reached thousands through its annual productions, shows, and classes.
Kristy is first and foremost a mother of three children that strives to assure they reach their greatest potential in life. She is the CEO of and Theatre Director for Hands Up Silent Theatre, a former private Music Instructor and a High School Teacher.
In her Teaching position Kristy teaches American Sign Language (ASL) to high school students as a second language.
She holds a Bachelor's Degree from Rutgers University, Degree in Deaf Studies/ ASL from RCBC and is currently pursuing an MFA from SNHU.
In 2014 Kristy learned that she was losing her hearing. She was absolutely devastated as she thought this meant she would lose her music and ability to enjoy the performing arts forever. She was ignorant and scared of what it meant to lose her hearing and become part of the d/Deaf community. She quickly decided to learn ASL and start to teach her children so they would never lose the ability to communicate with each other.
Along the way Kristy has met several incredible people who have been nothing but supportive of her new life's journey. One of those people is Sarah Tubert, a deaf youtuber. Sarah creates and posts songs with a focus on the ASL Interpretations. It was one of the most beautiful things Kristy had ever seen.
My Pivotal Moment:
During an honors society induction for her daughter Kristy was struggling to see the program's interpreter. She had not registered as a deaf attending that would have provided her closer seating and a direct view of the interpreter. Kristy was also too far to read the lips of those on stage and everything over the microphone was garbled like they were talking with marbles in their mouth. If the interpreter would have been on the stage where everyone could see them instead of isolated off in the corner it would have helped. Kristy shared her frustration with her daughter that night and together they decided to start their own deaf / hearing theatre where the kids are the actors incorporating the interpretations on stage.
I Will Make a Difference:
Kristy promotes equality in everything she does with a passion for enhancing the lives of those that enjoy theater by creating for her audience an experience that allows everyone's eyes (d/Deaf/hearing) to be on the stage enjoying the acting/dancing/props/lighting etc. together as it is meant to be. The program also changes the lives of those on the stage by building confidence and life skills as most of the students have never signed, acted or danced a day in their life until they joined Hands Up Silent Theatre; and in a very short time they are performing. The program today has six students including Kristy with varying degrees of hearing loss, the goal of the Theatre is to reach an equal 50 d/Deaf / 50 hearing student participation.
Leading With Passion:
With vision and a great passion for the performing arts as the foundation Kristy leads a team of industry professionals that bring choreography, dance, and American Sign Language interpretation to life through its students and productions.
Hands Up Silent Theatre’s mission is to encourage the Deaf community to be a part of and learn more about the performing arts and encourage the hearing community to learn ASL and interact with each other while breaking down communication barriers.
The vision for Hands Up Silent Theatre is to develop passionate performers that create unique and impactful performances for the deaf and hearing to enjoy together.