Terry Galloway developed “You Are My Sunshine,” to express her journey of hearing loss, deafness and restoration
Terry Galloway was born with significant hearing loss, and she has lived most of her life without the ability to appreciate sound.
Or, as Galloway explains, “deaf as a doornail.”
Her lack of hearing, however, did not limit a love for theater that started in childhood. Perhaps it even inspired it. Galloway is drawn to the spectacle and possibility of performance. It is something she can feel.
“There’s nothing like being in a room with it,” she said.
She set out to pursue her dream of expressive, performance art at The University of Texas in the late 1960s, and though she was denied acceptance into the acting program, she found mentors and like-minds at UT-Austin’s Shakespeare at Winedale Summer Theatre Festival, where she played iconic male roles such as Hamlet and Sir John Falstaff.
In 1977, Galloway became a founding member of Esther's Follies, one of the longest-running musical comedy theaters in the region. Soon after, she moved to New York to participate in a variety of theater shows. She has also written, directed and performed her own shows, and the Moody College Honors Program recently invited Galloway to perform her one-woman show, “You Are My Sunshine.”
Galloway credits success to her support system.
“It's friends and it’s friends and it's friends – that’s how,” Galloway said. “It's happy accident, unhappy accident, then friends.”
Galloway, who learned voice inflection from a high school speech teacher, communicated as a lip-reader, and said she resisted cochlear implants, which would restore the hearing she lost as a child. In 2010, something changed her mind.
“Why not?” Galloway said. “Why am I working so hard? Why not take advantage of the technological advancement?”
Since receiving the implants, she has learned to appreciate the sounds of the world. Then, she got a letter in the mail saying that her implants were being recalled.
“If this goes dead, they're going to have a hard time replacing it,” Galloway said. "When it does, it will leave me deaf."
Since receiving her letter, she wrote her one-woman show, “You Are My Sunshine.” It spans her entire life, in which she sings, “you are my sunshine,” to her cochlear implants because of the joy they bring her.
“It's a hard one, optimism," Galloway said, "But that's what it's about.”