The Humming of My Blood

Saturday, 16 Apr 2022

(run time approx. 75 minutes)


The Humming of My Blood takes as its premise the intriguing true story of the birth of Nicaraguan Sign Language. This language was invented and refined by successive waves of deaf Nicaraguan children in the 1980s, when the first school for the deaf was opened in Managua. Before then, deaf children had been isolated from each other and could only communicate with their families using crude gestures. At the school, a remarkable feat of collaborative human thought occurred, as the children developed a more and more sophisticated system of communication, bearing all the hallmarks of any human language.

Recently, researchers following this community have made yet another discovery: children who were exposed to more rudimentary versions of the language, before ways for signing ‘left’ and ‘right’ had been decided upon, have grown into adults who are unable to think clearly about where objects are in relation to each other. This result has been published as evidence for a causal effect of language on human thought. The play compresses and translates the findings of this linguistic research into a digestible format, in order to spark reflection on such fundamental questions as how thought, emotion and language may be interlinked.

The action opens on Luis, a young deaf boy trapped in his inner world, on a coffee plantation in rural Nicaragua. His parents (Maria and Samuel), a poor farming couple, disagree strongly about whether to enrol Luis in the new school for the deaf in Managua. While Maria has been living under Samuel’s controlling thumb for some time, she has an inner strength that refuses to be cowed. In this instance, she prevails and Luis is given a small chance to prove himself. Enter Judy, a respected deaf specialist from the US, her headstrong young PhD student, Ann, and Daniel, a disillusioned teacher at the school, and the scene is set for worlds to collide.

While Samuel and Daniel are dismissive of how well American interlopers can understand the political and social context of their country, Judy and Ann make the startling discovery that a new language is being born at the school. This event provides the catalyst for Ann and Daniel to begin to challenge one another to think differently, for Maria to dare to entertain the notion that she may exist outside her domineering husband’s shadow, and even for Samuel, eventually, to lay his demons to rest. Over the course of a school year, this unlikely group come increasingly together, while Luis, the ever-quiet presence around whom all the characters turn, finds his thought processes gradually liberated by the gift of language.

To bring this action to the stage, the script has been imbued with a sense of magic realism, and excerpts of Nicaraguan poetry have been woven through the text, to serve the themes and underline how we use language to express our inner experiences. Beyond the questions it raises, however, the play also stands as an invitation to audiences to connect with the timeless human stories being told at a moment of political and personal upheaval for the characters involved – stories of the search for meaning, of the search for self, of dark years and misunderstanding, of loneliness and, ultimately, of hope and love.


MARIA, late thirties/forties, Nicaraguan housewife.

SAMUEL, late thirties/forties, Nicaraguan coffee farmer.

LUIS, fourteen, their son. Deaf.

JUDY, fifties/sixties, American academic.

ANN, late twenties/early thirties, American PhD student.

DANIEL, late twenties/early thirties, Nicaraguan teacher.

If you would like to read the script, contact me