Aiming for sainthood

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When her Deaf mother gets cancer her hearing daughter, Arlene returns to her childhood home with two questions. Where is God and who stole my Springsteen poster?

The hearing daughter of devout Deaf parents must navigate through the cross-cultural maze of the medical world, the Deaf world, and the world beyond. When her mother undergoes surgery for cancer, Arlene returns home to New Jersey to help out and finds old territorial battles with her younger sister, frustrations with a health-care system ill-equipped to deal with hearing-impaired patients, and a renewed grappling with the spirituality she thought she'd abandoned years earlier. This story is about parents and children, Deaf and hearing, love and forgiveness, faith and tolerance, and finding yourself amid the clash of cultures we call America.


The next day we’re at Community Hospital at 7:00 am and it’s a crazy baptism by fire. Nurses are whizzing around, there are discussions to be interpreted and forms to be signed. Diana is crying and snotting all over the place, of course and Mommy is comforting her, of course. Daddy and my husband, Dan are arranging her religious doo-dads. But I am the only one who is being proactive; I tape a sign above her bed that reads “Deaf patient- Please tap and write” because I’m all about getting things done. And with that they wheel Mommy away. ILY. ILY. I LOVE YOU.

We wait, we wait and we watch. You see all kinds in a hospital; fast businessmen rushing in for the obligatory visit, the revolving door of nurses managing too many patients while their dinners get cold. You watch the joyful hellos, long goodbyes and the crushing grief. You pass room after room empty but for the sick who lie in them quietly watching TV. And then there are the regulars, who smile at you because they know you’re the same.

But in that hospital, it’s the sounds that that that I remember most. They crouch under beds and wanders the hallways to keep you company. It’s the sound whose secret heart holds, hope and faith, desperation and despair and it is the sound who hears the dozens of prayers offered up in dozens of languages. And when you’re in that hospital you are a part of it all.

• “Aiming for Sainthood” (The play can be tailored to Theaters, Performing Arts centers schools and colleges, conferences and organizations)

• Talk back sessions around the themes in the play. We bring the performance and follow up Q & A or group discussions to caregivers, support communities, universities, hospitals, and conferences. Cancer hits the entire family. We are here to support them.

• “Telling Your Story” Workshops with community members.

• Master classes at Colleges/Universities

• Keynote and empowerment talks for conferences

The show is 80 minutes long with sound and lights if technology allows. I also have a version of the play that is 55 minutes long . The work has been performed everywhere from theaters to gyma/cafa/toriums. Referrals upon request.


Malinowski’s honest portrayal of a loving family and each very different and deeply developed member is relatable and one of the funniest shows of the year. This show will strike at all of your senses leaving with a strong sense of joy and hope. Aiming For Sainthood and Arlene Malinowski are absolutely wonderful.
— Timothy McGuire (
The work feels unique and engrossing and it has an unforced sense of humor.
— Nina Metz (Windy City Times)
A multi-character examination about Malinowski’s hilarious, heartbreaking life growing up as a hearing person with deaf parents. Go while you can to get a dose of humanity this fall.
— Monica Westin (Huffington Post)
Arlene Malinowski has a wide smile and graceful presence that belies the wicked, self-deprecating wit of her new autobiographical solo show… Malinowski’s funny, observant, and deeply compassionate show should resonate for anyone who has reverted to childhood insecurity in the face of an adult crisis.
— Kerry Reid (Chicago Reader)
Remember her name; her work is a powerful testament to the reality that barriers can be overcome when there’s a will.
— Jane Beckett (Progress Center for Independent Living)