Garrett Zuercher

Garrett Zuercher

Profoundly Deaf playwright Garrett Zuercher writes plays in American Sign Language and English, often simultaneously. A two-time recipient of the Jean Kennedy Smith playwriting award from the Kennedy Center for his QUID PRO QUO and HARD PLACES, as well as their John Cauble award for the former, Garrett has also been recognized with many other prizes and honors. These include semifinalist status from the Eugene...
Profoundly Deaf playwright Garrett Zuercher writes plays in American Sign Language and English, often simultaneously. A two-time recipient of the Jean Kennedy Smith playwriting award from the Kennedy Center for his QUID PRO QUO and HARD PLACES, as well as their John Cauble award for the former, Garrett has also been recognized with many other prizes and honors. These include semifinalist status from the Eugene O’Neill Center for both VOICES and HARD PLACES, as well as the 2021 Zarkower Award from Hunter College for ALCESTIS 2020, a probing look at the recent COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on a modern and diverse Southern family.

Also a filmmaker, his comic take on the true stories of the relentless pursuit of Deaf people by religious sects, The Witnesses, won the 2020 Seattle Deaf Film Festival competition. More currently, another short he wrote, directed, and stars in alongside several other Broadway actors - Flirting, with Possibilities, a look at finding love as a gay and Deaf man - recently wrapped up post-production ahead of the 2022 festival circuit.

A veteran stage and screen performer and a proud, longtime member of both Actors Equity and SAG-AFTRA, Garrett is also a founder and the Artistic Director of Deaf Broadway, a collective of professional Deaf performers who make existing theatre productions visually accessible to their community in American Sign Language. Actors Garrett has directed and performed alongside for Deaf Broadway include A Quiet Place's Millicent Simmonds, Oscar-nominated actor Troy Kotsur of CODA, James Caverly of Hulu's Only Murders in the Building, and Tony-nominee Lauren Ridloff of Marvel’s Eternals. This past September, Garrett produced and directed a production of Stephen Sondheim’s INTO THE WOODS at Lincoln Center with an entirely Deaf cast, including Lucille Lortel Award-nominee Alexandria Wailes (The Public’s FOR COLORED GIRLS…) as the Witch. Currently, Deaf Broadway is enmeshed in preparations for another production at Lincoln Center this summer, details about which are forthcoming.

As an actor, Garrett got his big break right out of college when he was cast in the lead role of Huckleberry Finn in Deaf West’s Broadway production of BIG RIVER, after which he never stopped working. Notably, he can be seen a featured role in Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck alongside Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams and has been both murdered and a murderer on television in shows such as Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

A magna cum laude graduate of the theatre and writing programs at Marquette University in Milwaukee, he is currently in the final semester of his MFA studies in playwriting at Hunter College in New York City. This past spring, the very first play he wrote for his master's studies - HARD PLACES, about a Deaf alcoholic finding it more challenging to communicate in rehab than to stay sober - was showcased as part of Roundabout’s Reverb Theatre Festival with Broadway’s Joshua Castille (Deaf West’s Spring Awakening) reprising the lead role he helped to develop.

Dedicated to increasing the visibility of authentic Deaf voices in the mainstream, Garrett continues to advocate for awareness and representation within the theatre and film industries.

Plays

  • HARD PLACES
    A young gay man named Tip, finding himself at rock bottom, knows he has no other choice but to go rehab for his alcohol addiction. However, he quickly learns that being the only Deaf man in a facility designed for hearing people means he needs to fight for a lot more than just getting sober. Although his boyfriend, Jose, is stuck on the outside, Tip is able to connect with another patient on the inside, but...
    A young gay man named Tip, finding himself at rock bottom, knows he has no other choice but to go rehab for his alcohol addiction. However, he quickly learns that being the only Deaf man in a facility designed for hearing people means he needs to fight for a lot more than just getting sober. Although his boyfriend, Jose, is stuck on the outside, Tip is able to connect with another patient on the inside, but nobody is able to foresee the tragedy that is to come.
  • ALCESTIS 2020
    A modern, highly-topical adaptation of Euripides' ALCESTIS that takes a look at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on a modern family from rural Georgia and the deeply-buried secrets that are finally brought to the surface. Recognized with the 2021 Zarkower Award from Hunter College's Theatre Department for exemplary achievement by a first-year MFA student, this play had a workshop under the...
    A modern, highly-topical adaptation of Euripides' ALCESTIS that takes a look at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on a modern family from rural Georgia and the deeply-buried secrets that are finally brought to the surface. Recognized with the 2021 Zarkower Award from Hunter College's Theatre Department for exemplary achievement by a first-year MFA student, this play had a workshop under the direction of Mike Donahue and was performed by a cast that included Rodney Hicks (original cast of RENT) and Christopher Hanke (TV's The Resident) as a mixed-race gay couple raising their adopted son, around whom the world - both public and personal - implodes.

    There are no Deaf characters or themes in this play.
  • PRIVILEGE
    An exploration of varying forms of privilege within the Deaf community itself, showing that identity is wildly intersectional and based on both luck and how one is formed by one's family. The plot itself spins primarily around three very different people: a Hispanic Deaf child from a hearing immigrant family who has very little language but is now accused of attempted manslaughter, his lawyer who passes as...
    An exploration of varying forms of privilege within the Deaf community itself, showing that identity is wildly intersectional and based on both luck and how one is formed by one's family. The plot itself spins primarily around three very different people: a Hispanic Deaf child from a hearing immigrant family who has very little language but is now accused of attempted manslaughter, his lawyer who passes as hearing because he has a cochlear implant and speaks well, and the Deaf man from a multigenerational Deaf family who ends up being hired to interpret between the former two. As the play progresses, each of these three men are forced to analyze their own Deaf identity and place in the world.
  • DIFFERENT GHOSTS
    What happens to you when you manage to become a star on Broadway with one specific show, but aren't able to follow up on that promise because you don't fit the mainstream or how we think of conventional casting? How do you avoid becoming just another ghost? This play also takes a look at what responsibilities we have to each other as artists. Once a show has closed, what does that mean for the connections we have built?
  • MALACHI
    A modern retelling of Euripides' classic MEDEA, this time told through the eyes of a profoundly Deaf actor named Malachi who, after years of helping Jason, his hearing playwright boyfriend, write a new work heavily inspired by his own life, finds himself dumped - both personally and professionally - for another Deaf actor. Not only does this new actor, named Kit, speak a lot clearer than Malachi can,...
    A modern retelling of Euripides' classic MEDEA, this time told through the eyes of a profoundly Deaf actor named Malachi who, after years of helping Jason, his hearing playwright boyfriend, write a new work heavily inspired by his own life, finds himself dumped - both personally and professionally - for another Deaf actor. Not only does this new actor, named Kit, speak a lot clearer than Malachi can, making him far more accessible to mainstream hearing audiences, he also has a father who happens to be a leading Broadway producer. After the play within the play and Kit ultimately both become the toasts of the Great White Way and rake in a few Tony Awards, Malachi decides it's high time to take his murderous revenge on them all.
  • PHILOCTETES, a new adaptation
    What happens if you change one character in an ancient Greek tragedy to make him Deaf, but change nothing else about the play? How does this impact the piece as a whole?

    PHILOCTETES is the result of that experiment. Told in a classic verse style, the play follows the hearing Neoptolemos as he, ordered to do so by Odysseus, pretends to be Deaf in order to covertly convince Philoctetes, who really...
    What happens if you change one character in an ancient Greek tragedy to make him Deaf, but change nothing else about the play? How does this impact the piece as a whole?

    PHILOCTETES is the result of that experiment. Told in a classic verse style, the play follows the hearing Neoptolemos as he, ordered to do so by Odysseus, pretends to be Deaf in order to covertly convince Philoctetes, who really is Deaf, to rejoin Odysseus' army and help them win the battle of Troy with his divinely endowed bow. When the truth ultimately is revealed that Neoptolemos is not just an agent for Odysseus but also just pretending to be Deaf, this double betrayal turns Philoctetes against Odysseus even more than ever.
  • QUID PRO QUO
    Hearing college student Lindsay informs fellow student and Deaf man Lucas that, as a result of their drunken one-night-stand, she is now pregnant. However, she wants to give the baby up for adoption, which Lucas vehemently refuses to allow on the slim chance that the baby could also be Deaf. Through a magical twist of fate, everything changes and gives them each far more insight into their own identities than...
    Hearing college student Lindsay informs fellow student and Deaf man Lucas that, as a result of their drunken one-night-stand, she is now pregnant. However, she wants to give the baby up for adoption, which Lucas vehemently refuses to allow on the slim chance that the baby could also be Deaf. Through a magical twist of fate, everything changes and gives them each far more insight into their own identities than they could ever have imagined possible.

    The entire play is performed in American Sign Language. Simultaneous voice actors can be provided.
  • A BAG OF SAND AT APPLEBEE'S
    What happens when Caroline is in desperate need of a beach vacation, but can't afford to take the time off from work? She gets creative and takes a bag of sand to Applebee's. A short, one-act comedy piece.

    This play has no Deaf characters or themes.