June 30, 2011, Updated August 7, 2018

Blending touch, mime, sign language and music, 11 Israeli blind and deaf actors light up the stage at Nalaga’at Center in Tel Aviv-Jaffa. They learn their parts painstakingly, through directions spelled onto their hands by translators.

Nalaga'at theater troupe
A scene from Not By Bread Alone at the Nalaga’at Center. Photo by Liron Almog

“If you cannot see, and you cannot hear, you need to touch and get touched, and once you are open enough to get touched, your life is changed,” says Adina Tal, director of the troupe. In Hebrew, na lagaat means “please touch.”

The only deaf and blind theater troupe in the world, since its 2002 founding Nalaga’at has frequently been invited to perform its two full-length shows, and a new children’s performance, in North America and Europe.

In 2007, Nalaga’at opened its own center, complete with a café staffed by deaf waiters and a restaurant with blind servers. More than 200,000 patrons have visited the center thus far, and Tal says each left a little different than when they came in.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

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