CLEVELAND SIGNSTAGE THEATRE (formerly Fairmount Theatre of the Deaf) was founded in 1975 by Brian Kilpatrick, a deaf actor, and Chas. St. Clair, whose intentions were to stage plays and make them available to the hearing-impaired by translating them into American Sign Language. Since that time the theatre has established and maintained a reputation for bringing to the stage a new expression in the area of theatre. Incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1979, the Fairmount Theatre of the Deaf subsequently moved into the complex of the CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE, where it has performed in the Brooks and Studio theaters.
The mission of Signstage is to produce extraordinary theatre that brings deaf and hearing people together. This mission is accomplished by providing theatrical and educational performances and workshops for deaf and hearing persons. Signstage is one of the few professional theatre companies in the U.S. that hires deaf and hearing actors to work together to provide these shared experiences. In 1990 Signstage became the first professional theatre company in the country to be headed by a deaf artistic director. Signstage has maintained an exceptionally active performance schedule. In recent years the theatre has run a program funded by the U.S. Dept. of Education entitled Instant Theatre, providing month-long residency experiences in deaf communities throughout the country. Signstage also presents Education/Outreach programming as well as local and touring mainstage productions. Each season, in excess of 45,000 young people and adults experience Signstage's unique and outstanding programming. Signstage has won 4 local Emmy Awards and 2 Cleveland Drama Critics' Circle Awards. In 1991 the theatre was the first-ever recipient of the Ohio Governor's Award for Arts Outreach. Internationally, Signstage has represented the U.S. at the 8th Intl. Pantomime Festival of the Deaf in Brno, Czechoslovakia, as well as the Jerash Festival in Amman, Jordan.