The Ark Film Company of St. Petersburg is known for creating short edifying films and songs for young people. The troupe is sponsored by the congregation at the affiliated Ark Church, which one Sunday years ago found themselves with Deaf visitors attending a service. The Church arranged for a dedicated volunteer to interpret the services. But unlike other venues offering Sign interpreting, The Ark didn’t stop there; they added an outreach for the Deaf community, and the hearing members began learning Sign too. They even cast their Deaf members to star in movies that Deaf and hearing family members can enjoy together.
Here is the letter “A” in their Dictionary of Christian Sign Terms.)
Here’s a sweet upbeat video in collaboration with the rock group Глас Вопиющего, meaning “Voice [of One] Crying Out” (as, “in the wilderness,” describing John the Baptist), performed by Aleksei Chernovolov. In English translation, the equally sweet upbeat lyrics run along like this:
“This song is for you, my friend;
this song is for me and for everyone around.
This song is about Him and about your dreams.
I know that you hear it….
This new song is about His love.
This new song — I know that you hear it.”
This calls to mind an interesting question. “Where is the Orthodox Church in all this? Do they have Signed services too?” They might, but compare the above song with a typical line from an Orthodox Sunday service: “Let us who mystically represent the Cherubim, and who sing the thrice-holy hymn to the life-creating Trinity, now lay aside all earthly cares.” Lyrical language like this during a two-hour Liturgy would make interpreting a formidable task. Besides, Russian Orthodox services even in America are not necessarily in Russian; they’re often in Slavonic, which was never a spoken language. Are there even Signs for that?
Advance disclaimer for the usual readers of this blog:
Ark films are Evangelical Christian morality plays of temptation versus virtue. The overall lesson is that young people who pursue immediate gratification instead of wise counsel meet disaster, while those who invite Jesus into their hearts and join a Christian fellowship (say, The Ark Church), recover and thrive and find terrific supportive friends. The moral dilemmas and character portrayals are stylized and emphatic. Still, the quirkily appealing homespun low-low-budget featurettes serve as a unique sociological view of the post-Soviet Evangelical Christian movement, and of linguistic and cultural conventions among the Deaf characters.
Here meanwhile are four Arkettes (one up front, three behind the scenes in flannel mittens) in a Signed puppet fable. The lyrics are lovely; I’ll probably translate them here at some point. That sweet silver voice is singer Tatiana Shilova:
“The Ballad of Three Sons” (Баллада о трёх сыновьях).
The main Ark opus, a two-hour film created in Sign and later dubbed in Russian,
is reviewed in this next post here.
Back soon! M