Actor, choreographer and deaf community advocate Fred Michael Beam has been named outreach coordinator for Sunshine 2.0, the new theater outreach program at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
Sunshine 2.0 is a professional theater troupe that will travel to schools, organizations, conferences, civic groups, festivals and other venues, offering performances and activities for children and adults that highlight the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), as well as educational topics pertaining to the deaf experience. The performances are presented in voice and American Sign Language, are accessible to all audience members and cover subjects for people of all ages, free of charge.
Sunshine 2.0 is a 21st-century reboot of Sunshine Too, a similar on-the-road performing arts program that was established in 1980 and, during its 19-year history, visited 48 states and several countries presenting programs developed around the themes of deaf awareness, social issues and the environment. The troupe provided more than 12,500 performances for more than 1.3 million people worldwide.
Beam, an RIT/NTID alumnus from Tampa, Fla., has a varied theatrical background, including acting, choreography, directing, administration, advocacy and leadership. He served as president of National Black Deaf Advocates from 2007 to 2009, and executive director of Invisible Hands International, which promoted deaf awareness through the performing arts.
He previously performed as one of the Wild Zappers, an American Sign Language/dance ensemble of black deaf men, which he co-founded with Irvine Stewart and Warren “Wawa” Snipe in 1989. The troupe performed throughout the United States and abroad. Beam also directed the National Deaf Dance Theatre.
“Fred’s career has been devoted to building bridges between communities,” said Aaron Kelstone, Sunshine 2.0 producer. “NTID looks forward to having him working with Sunshine 2.0 to establish connections between NTID and schools and programs throughout the nation.”
For his outstanding work with the deaf community, Beam was chosen one of Essence Magazine’s Real Men of the Year (2006), and was DEAF LIFE magazine’s Deaf Person of the Month in December 2007.
“NTID is one of the few colleges in the world to offer deaf and hard-of-hearing students a fully accessible performing arts program of theater, dance and music,” Beam said. “I’m honored to be part of this exciting venture and to bring Sunshine 2.0 and our message to new audiences.”