It’s been a tradition at the Toluca Lake Christmas Open House (this year on Dec. 2) for a wonderful lady to spread the beauty of sign language. Martha Elcan always enjoys singing with the River Oaks Chorus at Fritz Coleman’s tree lighting ceremony, and when the group continues down the street to sing at neighborhood stores and restaurants, you’ll see Marty signing some of their songs.
Elcan says, “It is a language that is so expressive and touches people. People are deeply moved when they see songs done in sign language. They come up to me and say, ‘That was beautiful.’”
So Elcan, a fine director and member of the DGA, has put all her passions for singing, signing, and directing to create the “Shut Up and Sign” Sign Language DVD series.
“It’s exciting. I conceived the idea two years ago with my deaf sign language teacher, who is also a crazy wonderful actor and a teacher. Now we are launching our first three DVDs the beginning of December.”
The goal of the DVDs is to make learning sign language fun and easy, because Elcan talks to people all the time who want to learn.
“Interest is enormous, and sign language has become the third most-used language in the United States,” Elcan notes.
Also exciting in her life are two very different family film projects, reporting that “one is for a younger audience (Secrets of the Dollhouse), and the other (Three Times a Lady) involves older actors, but is a story for the whole family.”
She hopes those will soon be added to her many credits as a director of film and television, plus a documentary that got a local Emmy nomination. But she says her top goal for the holiday is “to bring the joy of sign language to everyone who wants to learn, by launching my sign language series ‘Shut Up and Sign.’”
Next year she hopes the independent film she directed, Next of Kin, will find an audience. And it will be a Martha Elcan film. Known as Marty to her friends, for her credits she uses Martha Elcan, “just so people know there’s a woman at the helm.”