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Hearing Loss Doesn't Keep TDF Member Holly Cohen from Loving Theatre

Date: May 09, 2016

Welcome to Meet the Member, where TDF members let you know which shows they love.

Today's member: Holly Cohen, a member of our TDF Accessibility Programs


Emily Travis, Marketing Manager at TDF: Hello, Holly! It's nice to meet you. To get started, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Holly: I moved to New York City in 2012. Through my involvement with the New York City chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), I learned about TDF's open captioned performances. They offer a whole new level of theatre appreciation for those of us with hearing loss.

Emily: I know you see a ton of shows. What have you seen recently that stands out?

Holly: So many, but I'll focus on four: Fun Home is now among my top three, all-time favorites. The story moved me, every song touched me, and the actors truly brought the story to life. School of Rock was a huge surprise -- the energy was contagious! I didn't see The Color Purple when it was originally on Broadway but I was enormously touched by the new production. Eclipsed was powerful from the first scene to the last. I have tickets for the upcoming open captioned performance of Hamilton. I've been listening to the soundtrack in preparation and have no doubt it will be in my top five of all-time favorites.

Emily: When did you first fall in love with theatre?

Holly: I grew up nearby in Union, NJ. My parents introduced my sister and me to Broadway with Oliver. I can still hear, "Please, sir, I want some more" in my head. This was followed by the original Pippin with Ben Vereen -- it's still one of my top shows. When I was older, my friends and I would take the bus into the city to stand "on the line," as we called it, at TKTS to buy tickets for shows. I still tell everyone that standing "on the line" is part of the NYC theatregoing experience!

Emily: Besides Broadway, you attend many other types of arts events, too, right?

Holly: There are so many cultural opportunities beyond the theatre: art museums, 92Y programs, Randy Cohen's Person Place Thing interviews at the JCC, Jason Robert Brown performing at SubCulture downtown, and so much more. I walk everywhere and love exploring city neighborhoods.

Emily: When you're not at the theatre or cultural events, what do you do?

Holly: I volunteer for HLAA and am the former president of the New York City chapter. We provide informational programs, support, and advocacy for people with hearing loss. I am currently involved in launching the chapter's new website and facilitating workshops about living with hearing loss.

Emily: As an audience member with hearing loss, have our TDF Accessibility Programs impacted your theatregoing experience?

Holly: TDF's open captioned performances have a huge impact on all of us who live with hearing loss. Going to theatre would be a lost pleasure because of the impossibility of hearing the spoken words on the stage. With captioned performances, every word is visible. That helps us to easily follow the story. It's a huge gift.

To contribute to TDF's accessibility programs, just go here.


Note: This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Photo courtesy of Holly Cohen