Actor and advocate
One of the finest actors working today, Deaf or hearing, Howie Seago is noted for the poetic intensity and emotive power of his ASL performances. He has taken ASL roles in “Hearing” productions, adding a fresh dimension of artistry in language and motion.
Those who have had the pleasure of working with him can attest to his professionalism, warmth, unpretentious kindness, commitment to excellence, and advocacy for other Deaf performers. He is still remembered for his title role of Ajax in Peter Sellars’ 1986 production, which gained him international recognition. As Artist-in-Residence, he taught Performing Arts courses (such as Sign Mime) at NTID, then went on to several guest-starring TV-drama roles—notably in Star Trek: the Next Generation, Hunter, and The Equalizer.
He co-starred with French Deaf actress Emmanuelle Laborit in Jenseits der Stille (Beyond Silence, 1996), playing a Deaf man whose hearing daughter, an aspiring clarinetist, becomes cozy with his hearing sister, a professional clarinetist—the sister who got preferential treatment when they were children, to his resentment. Jenseits was nominated for a “Best Foreign Film” Oscar. Howie later joked about getting out of a limousine on Oscars Night, noticing that the blinding lightning-flashes of press cameras that typically greet Hollywood stars as they emerge into the public eye were stilled.
Since 1998, he has directed the Shared Reading Video Outreach Project, under the auspices of Washington School for the Deaf, which uses videoconferencing technology to give deaf children in remote school districts throughout the state a chance to interact with Deaf tutors and other Deaf children, to improve their literacy and communicative skills.
Taking a 3-month break from the SRVOP, he appeared in the Intiman Playhouse’s production of Thornton Wilder’s nutty dark comedy, The Skin of Our Teeth (April 28-June 2, 2007). Significantly, it was directed by Bartlett Sher, who also performed in Sellars’ production of Ajax. When planning his new production of Teeth, Sher knew whom he wanted for the lead role—he never considered anyone else. Howie’s performance was described by critics as “titanic” and “moving.”
He has also continued to do standup comedy, conducting acting and creative-ASL workshops, teaching acting courses for Deaf people, directing the Deaf Teen Leadership Camp, and will soon be resuming a favorite interest—directing local ASL productions. His wife, Lori, teaches Deaf high-school students. Their two sons, Ryan and Kyle, are grown.