MSS 179

Barwiolek, Alan Roy, 1952-1996

Papers of Alan Roy Barwiolek, 1927-1998

Gallaudet University Archives

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Gallaudet University Archives

Call No.: MSS 179


Title: Papers of Alan Roy Barwiolek, 1927-1998

Quantity: 48 linear feet (30 document boxes, 11 oversized boxes, and 2 map folders)

Abstract: Alan Roy Barwiolek was a deaf actor and a strong proponent in promoting awareness of American Sign Language (ASL) and Deaf Culture. This collection consists of books, class notes, contracts, correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, programs, props, publications, scripts, and videotapes.


Administrative Information

Acquisition Information: The Papers of Alan Roy Barwiolek was donated to the Gallaudet University Archives by Anthony Allicino, Executor of Alan Roy Barwiolek’s Estate, on May 19, 2008.

Processed By: Jeffrey Peterson, 2010 August 23.

Processing Note:

Conditions on Use and Access: This collection is open to the public with the exception of boxes 25, 29, OV 06, OV 10, and OV 11, which are restricted. Photocopies may be made for scholarly research.

Related Material in the Archives


  • Friends of AlB’s Scholarship Fund News. Gallaudet University Archives, Call Number: Gallaudet Periodicals


  • Alan Barwiolek [picture]. Gallaudet University Archives, Call Number: Portraits
  • Deaf Artists and Performers [picture]: celebration 89. Gallaudet University Archives, Call Number: Drawer B7

Vertical Files

  • Alan R. Barwiolek. Gallaudet University Archives, Call Number: Deaf Biographical

Biographical Sketch

Alan Roy Barwiolek, known to many as “AlB,” was born to Stanley and Irene Barwiolek on July 19, 1952, in Jeannette, Pennsylvania, outside of Pittsburgh. Like his older sister and parents before him, he attended the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (WPSD) from 1956 to 1970. Alan was often times noted as a bright student and was very well known among his peers due to his penchant for telling humorous stories.

After graduating from WPSD, Alan moved on to Gallaudet College (now Gallaudet University), which he attended from 1970 to 1975. At first drawn to studying Art History, he moved on to his true calling and received his BA in Drama. While attending Gallaudet, Alan was very active in the school’s theatre, playing parts in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” in 1973 and winning Best Actor for his role as Hucklebee in “The Fantasticks” in 1975.
Alan then moved to New York and attended New York University, receiving his MA in Educational Theatre in 1977 while studying acting with the National Theater of the Deaf (NTD).

Alan was involved in numerous caveats of theatre for the deaf and theatre accessibility: he was a founding member and President of the New York Deaf Theatre (NYDT) and performed with them in several Off-Broadway shows; Sign Language Coach and Deaf Cultural Arts Consultant for the Theatre Development Fund, Theatre Access Project for Broadway shows, and the New York City Opera; taught Creative Dramatics to deaf and hearing children at the Boston School for the Deaf under Project REACH; and coached Oscar-winning William Hurt for his role in “Children of a Lesser God” and Larry Bazzell for his Obie-winning performance in “The Signal Season of Dummy Hoy.”

Alan Barwiolek was perhaps most famously known for his activities with CHALB Productions, which he co-created with J. Charlie McKinney in 1980. Their first performance at the Pennsylvania Society for the Advancement of the Deaf (PSAD) Convention in York, Pennsylvania, was a play called “Deaf Pa, What?” which consisted of a satirical look at Deaf Culture, deaf norms, and American Sign Language. The play became a huge success and the duo was invited to perform all over the country as well as abroad in countries like France and Japan. Additional plays were added to their repertoire, including “The Anatomy and Physiology of Deaf Bodies,” “CHALBley’s Believe It or Not,” and “Deaf Abuse Center.” Alan and Charlie were responsible for creating, producing, directing, and performing all of their works. They also conducted numerous workshops and lectures relating to Deaf Culture, ASL, and deaf norms.
When he wasn’t performing, Alan’s full-time positions consisted of working as a Deaf-Blind Specialist with the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Newark, New Jersey, then later as an American Sign Language and Interpreter Training Professor at Union County College in Cranford, New Jersey.

Alan Roy Barwiolek passed away on April 17, 1996.

Scope and Content

The papers of Alan Roy Barwiolek consists of 30 document boxes, 11 oversize boxes, and 2 map folders for a total of 48 linear feet and approximately 24,800 pages. The materials within the collection range from 1927 to 1998. The earliest artifact from 1927 is a photograph of Alan’s father, Stanley Barwiolek, while he was a student at WPSD. The majority of content is from the 1980s and early 1990s.

Objects, props, and videotapes are also in this collection; however, some are restricted. See below under the description for Series 9 for further information.

The bulk of the papers are contracts, correspondence, manuscripts, and materials relating to CHALB Productions such as programs, publications, and scripts. The strongest components of the collection are correspondence, programs, and scripts. These materials are excellent for the researcher who wants to see how active and influential CHALB Productions was. The weakest part of the collection is information on organizations located in the General and Correspondence series. Alan Barwiolek was active in several organizations, such as an evaluator for the Sign Instructors Guidance Network (SIGN), which would later become the American Sign Language Teachers Association (ASLTA), but there is little information on these and other organizations.

Of special note, Alan was a non-credited extra in an episode of “The Equalizer” titled “Silent Fury.” Alan appears at about 14:47 in the background speaking to one of the main characters, Ron (Howie Seago). His line of dialogue made him eligible for Screen Actors Guild membership, an accomplishment he was proud to achieve. This videotape can be found in Box OV 11.

Series Description and Folder Lists

Series 1: Articles/Books/Class Notes

Boxes 1-4, OV 1

This first series of this collection consists of articles that feature Alan Barwiolek and/or CHALB Productions. A very interesting article that was highly praised for bringing awareness about the plight of deafness in a hearing world titled “Negotiating New York in a Soundless Vacuum” is in this series. Some of Alan’s favorite books such as the Red Balloon are included, as well notes from when he was a student and later a teacher can be found in Series 1 as well. The oversized box in this series contains a scrapbook of his work as a student at WPSD.

Series 2: Contracts/Conventions

Boxes 4-6

In the second series the researcher can see the numerous contract agreements CHALB Productions established in order to perform. These documents are particularly useful by showing where the duo performed and when and alternatively how in demand and popular their performances were. Documents relating to some of the conventions Alan attended are in this series.

Series 3: Correspondence

Boxes 6-11

Correspondence makes up the third series of this collection. Of particular interest are letters pertaining to discrimination in the theatre, restaurants, new broadcasts, and other public services such as national parks. Alan was very active in pursuing equality for the deaf and bringing awareness to others.

Series 4: General

Boxes 11-14, OV 2-3, Oversized Folders

This series contains documents that give the researcher a brief overview of Alan Barwiolek’s life if one were to peruse these files. Within the General series are papers from the organizations Alan was involved with, and other materials that the various stages of his life: his time as a student at WPSD and Gallaudet, his transition towards a performer, his work with CHALB Productions, becoming a teacher, and finally the effect he had on others after his passing. The oversized boxes and folders in this series hold posters from movies and plays Alan either participated in or enjoyed.

Series 5: Manuscripts

Boxes 14-16

Inside of the Manuscripts series are documents that Alan wrote while he was a student, most of which were about drama and theatre and its impacts on Deaf culture. Perhaps most interesting in this series are folders six and seven in box 15 titled “Living in Silence.” This manuscript about Alan’s life was being worked on with the assistance of Anna Michel and was planned to be published; however, it was never completed. Nonetheless, it is an intriguing autobiography of Alan’s childhood.

Series 6: Notes/Personal

Boxes 16-17, OV 4-5

The sixth series contains notes and personal materials. One can find samples of Alan’s ideas jotted down to be used in speeches, workshops, and some of the research he did on deaf history. The personal part of this series contains such items as calendar books which give an insight into Alan’s day to day activities and duties, passports, and his resume. The oversize boxes in this series contain two of Alan’s diaries.

Series 7: Programs/Publications

Boxes 17-22

Series 7 holds programs from the numerous events that featured CHALB Productions and/or Alan in solo appearances, such as emcee for the Miss Deaf Pennsylvania Pageant. The numerous programs are organized by year. The second half of Series 7 is publications, consisting primarily of the many magazines and newsletters that hold articles about CHALB Productions or Alan Barwiolek. A couple of publications are in Japanese and one is in French.

Series 8: Scripts

Box 22-24

This series holds scripts used when Alan was active in theatre with Gallaudet University, New York Deaf Theatre, and the production of “Wizard of Oz” by students at the Marie Katzenbach School for the Deaf in New Jersey. The script for “Children of a Lesser God,” the movie which Alan Barwiolek served as William Hurt’s sign language coach, is in this series as well.

Series 9: Restricted

Boxes 25, 29, OV 6, OV 10-11

Materials of “Deaf Pa, What?” and “Anatomy and Physiology of Deaf Bodies” are copyrighted and accessible for research. Written permission for possible use and/or publishing of the above materials by Mr. Anthony Allicino must be obtained. Documents and visual materials used for Alan Barwiolek’s work as a performance artist, both solo and as a co-partner of CHALB Productions, are restricted. This restriction will end upon Mr. Anthony Allicino’s death.

Click here to Folders listing

Click here to Photographs listing

Click here to Objects listing

Contact Us


King Jordan Student Academic Center 1255

(202) 250-2604

** By Appointment Only **

Select what best describes your relationship to Gallaudet University so we can effectively route your email.
By submitting this form, I opt in to receive select information and deaf resources from Gallaudet University via email.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.