DJ Kurs

Artistic Director, Deaf West Theatre

Having grown up in a Deaf family in Riverside, California, David J. Kurs had a "culturally rich" upbringing, with lots of access to the lively ASL-theater and interpreted-theater scene in Los Angeles, but wasn't sure about job opportunities, so he majored in Marketing at Gallaudet University. After graduating, he worked as a freelance writer, producer, and filmmaker.. "One year after graduation, I moved to LA and decided to find a job in the creative industry," he told Julio Martinez in 2012. "I ended up as a script reader. This job was a gateway for me, and it was at this time that I became passionate about the power of the arts and the media in changing the publiic perception of the Deaf community."

Deaf West Theatre in Los Angeles, founded by Ed Watersteet in 1991, has had a notably successful career as an ASL theater, establishing partnerships with other theaters such as Fountain and City Theater Group. Its 2001 production of Big River, an intermodal musical, proceeded to the Mark Taper Forum, then to Broadway, getting nominated for a Tony Award for Best Musical.

Kurs said, “I saw what Deaf West Theatre had achieved with Big Rivernot only artistic success, but they had also shown audiences that Deaf people were part of a colorful, vivid culture and their language was something that they took pride in. I saw what Deaf West Theatre had achieved with Big River—not only artistic success, but they had also shown audiences that deaf people were part of a colorful, vivid culture and their language was something that they took pride in.”

As Deaf West's Artistic Associate, Kurs wrote and produced a multimedia show for young audiences, Aesop Who? (2008). He served as aassociate producer and ASL master for iDeaf West's productions of Children of a Lesser God (2009), My Sister in This House (2010), and The Adventures of Pinocchio (2011). He's maintained an active presence in the local and national Daf community; he also served as president of GLAD's Board of Directors.

In March 2012, Deaf West's Board announced Waterstreet's retirement and the appointment of Kurs as the new Artistic Director. Without missing a beat, he co-produced the Deaf West/Fountain production of Cyrano, an imaginative take on the classic Cyrano de Bergerac, minus the fake nose and Cavalier costumes, about being Deaf, pride, frustration, and cross-cultural love. (Stephen Sachs, Producing Director of the Fountain, was the other co-producer.)

Deaf West's 2015 production of Spring Awakening, an intermodal rock-musical adaptation of a controversial late-19th-century German play about growing up in a sexually repressive culture, had an extended run, and is headed for Broadway.

Of his plans for Deaf West, he told Martinez, "I want to find ways to bring theater into their homes, to expose deaf children to the potential of the stage so that they may begin to explore it on their own. It’s a very accessible art with deep roots in our community, and it saddens me that sign language theater is not nearly as prevalent as it once was. I was so fortunate to be exposed to so much sign language theater while growing up: community and high school productions, international deaf culture festivals, touring productions of the National Theatre of the Deaf, and most of all, Deaf West’s many productions. And video is one possibility of achieving that exposure.

“Deaf West has had a great impact on me in my artistic development, and I can only hope to spread this passion on to others and to create opportunities for them so that we all can achieve a shared goal of artistic growth.”

He told Bill O'Brien in 2014: "In this age of Facebook and videophones, there aren’t very many reasons for our community to gather, and I’m very proud of the sense of community that our theater fosters. We truly excel in audience development, and a sizable portion of our audience has never seen a Deaf West show before. Our loyal patrons come out to the theater partly because they’re always curious about the new deaf actors that we cast, or the deaf designers and crew that worked to make the show a reality. We are very passionate about putting deaf artists to work because there are so few venues for them to ply their craft, and because we want to show the world how it’s done, especially here in Los Angeles where there is so much proximity to film and television production."

Quotationst taken from: Julio Martinez, "David Kurs—a New Leader for Deaf West, This Stage Magazine, March 7, 2012 (, and Bill O'Brien, "DJ Kurs/Deaf West Theatre's Signs of Community," NEA Arts Magazine, No. 2, 2014 (

Deaf Person of the Year
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2018
January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018
Roberta Cordano TabPhoto Amanada Folendorf TabPhoto Sonya Smith TabPhoto Lauren Ridloff TabPhoto Julian Moiwai TabPhoto Joshua Castille TabPhoto
July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018
Rebecca Giuntoli TabPhoto
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2017
January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017
July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2016
January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016
July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2015
January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015
July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2014
January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014
July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2013
January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013
July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2012
January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012
July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2011
January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011
July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2010
January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010
July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2009
January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009
July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2008
January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008
July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2007
January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007
July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007

Site Terms | Contacts | Advertising | Privacy Policy

Any questions, comments, ideas, or concerns you’d like to share?  Contact us at
Copyright © 2007 - 2018 MSM Productions Ltd. All Rights Reserved.