We had the good fortune of connecting with Brandon Kazen-Maddox and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brandon, is there something you can share with us that those outside of the industry might not be aware of?
Regarding the ASL performance interpreting industry, many people are unaware just how important it is to ensure that Deaf artists, performers, directors and interpreters are represented in the shows that are put on. Representation is pivotal and is both linguistic and cultural.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a Grandchild of Deaf Adults or a GODA, and my first language is American Sign Language. Because of ASL and Deaf culture, my life has been rooted in art, language, acrobatics, dance and creativity. Having started my career in the circus arts for 7 years, my pathway to where I am now has been an incredibly unique one. I have interpreted for Broadway shows, been a dancer in off-Broadway musicals, done tours of large-scale shows and enjoyed working with some of the best people in the entertainment industry. I am the awardee of the Creative Capital Award (2021-2022) and the New England Foundation for the Arts National Dance Production grant (2021), which has allowed me to produce my American Sign Language Dance Theatre Re-Imagining of Andrew Lippa’s WILD PARTY. Our second workshop will be at Little Island NYC on August 31, 2022. The most important aspect of this work is showcasing the diversity of the Deaf community; from Deaf folks who come from many generations of Deaf family members, to hard-of-hearing Deaf people, to CODAs to GODAs like myself!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Seeing as I live in NYC, I would definitely take my friends on the Staten Island Ferry because it’s free and beautiful. We would go down to Chelsea Markets where there is a huge variety of food to choose from. I love walking up and down Riverside Park along the Hudson River, and taking a trip to Little Island is a must during the summertime. There is so much to see and do here in NYC that the possibilities are pretty endless. I live in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and there are some truly amazing vintage stores to shop at as well!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The organizations that create art that shifts culture are, to me, the most invaluable aspects of NYC. Up Until Now Collective, founded by Kevin Newbury, Jecca Barry, Marcus Shields, and myself is a non-profit organization that focuses on radical empathy, inclusion and creating challenging and necessary work. We have made 20 short films in 2 years and it would have been impossible without the support of one another. Body Language Productions is my for-profit ASL Performance company and I give the highest recognition to Shelly Guy, Seth Gore and Jamie Rose Hays for their unwavering support in the process of creating infrastructure, being constantly innovative, and providing stellar representation and services to and for our Deaf community. The Park Avenue Armory, New York Live Arts, The Shed, The Public Theater and Little Island are all cultural institutions that live, breathe and create new, innovative works of art, and NYC is fortunate to be the home to them all!
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Photo credit by Travis Magee (Headshot) Photo credit by Marcus Shields (Group shot)