About the Artist: Willy Conley

Award-winning American deaf photographer, playwright, actor and writer Willy Conley was born August 5, 1958, in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Both of his parents were educators, his father was an elementary school principal and his mother a special education teacher. He is a retired professor from Gallaudet University’s Theatre and Dance program (30 years). Conley is a freelance writer, photographer, and theatre/film artist exploring serendipitous ways to use art and writing to enrich and uplift the Deaf (and human) experience.

As a multi-disciplinary artist, he works separately and together in the areas of theatre, photography, and writing. He was trained as an actor at the National Theatre of the Deaf where he toured with the company for three years. Conley performed with Pilobolus Dance Theatre, Amaryllis Theatre Company, Colonial Theatre, Shakespeare-in-the-Park in Westerly, Rhode Island, Fairmount Theatre of the Deaf, New York Deaf Theatre, Quest: Arts for Everyone, and Sunshine Too National Touring Company. He appeared in an episode of NBC’s Law & Order as CI ‘Silencer’. As an actor and playwright he received a fellowship from PEW/Theatre Communications Group National Theatre Artist Residency Program where he worked as an Associate Artist with CenterStage for ten years.

Prior to his theatre career, Conley studied Biomedical Photographic Communication at the Rochester Institute of Technology with internships at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Yale University School of Medicine. He received his B.S. degree and became a Registered Biological Photographer and was employed at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, and at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills, California. He worked in this field for six years. His photographs have appeared in several publications, he has two photographs in the permanent collection of the Helen C. Dyer Arts Gallery and one in the School of Photographic Arts both at R.I.T.

Through his work he became aware there were few plays written by Deaf writers from the Deaf perspective. This inspired him to earn his M.A. in Creative Writing/Playwriting from Boston University under Nobel laureate, Derek Walcott, and an M.F.A. in Interdisciplinary-Intercultural Theatre from Towson University. He went on to teach theater arts at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. He is the recipient of several awards including the VSA 2000 Playwrights Discovery Award, the American Deaf Drama Festival Award, the Same Edwards Deaf Playwrights Competition, the Baltimore Playwrights Festival, Neworks Festival in Boston (1997 & 1999), and the Lamia Ink! International One-Page-Play Festival.

The play Goya (2001), about the life of the Spanish painter Francisco Goya, was co-written with Russian-born actor Iosif Schneiderman. Conley describes the play as a “visual, nonverbal movement piece” with Conley creating scenes based on Goya’s paintings and drawings and Schneiderman crafting the actors’ masks and teaching the actors creative movement and pantomime. Since its first performance in 2002 the play has changed and now “delves deeper into my imaginings of the psycho-social impact that Goya’s deafness had on his life, art and interactions with people,” says Conley.

“When one loses the sense of hearing or sight, does humanity’s truth become clearer and more honest? And what happens when an artist strives to reveal the truth? Any or all of these thoughts are what I hope may pop up in the audience’s mind when they leave the theater.”

See Goya: en la Quinta del Sordo directed by playwright Willy Conley April 27 – May 1 at CCBC Catonsville, Center for the Arts, Theatre.
Performance Dates: April 27 at 11:10 a.m., April 28, 29 at 7 p.m., April 30 at 3 p.m., and May 1 at 10 a.m. All performances are accessible to hearing, deaf, and hard-of-hearing patrons.
General admission $10, Seniors, Students, CCBC Faculty/Staff/Alumni $5, FREE for CCBC Students with current ID
Purchase tickets online at www.ccbctickets or call the Box Office at 443-840-ARTS.
CCBC will also host a Deaf Community Town Hall meeting 5:30 p.m., Saturday, April 29. All participants will have free admission to the 7 p.m. Goya performance after the meeting. To join, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/deaf-community-town-hall-followed-by-goya-performance-tickets-565879660297.

This production is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.

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