Read Tribes by Nina Raine Online


In Tribes, Billy, who is deaf, is the only one who actually listens in his idiosyncratic, fiercely argumentative bohemian family. But when he meets Sylvia, who is going deaf, he decides he finally wants to be heard. With excoriating dialogue and sharp, compassionate insights, Nina Raine crafts a penetrating play about belonging, family and the limitations of communication.In Tribes, Billy, who is deaf, is the only one who actually listens in his idiosyncratic, fiercely argumentative bohemian family. But when he meets Sylvia, who is going deaf, he decides he finally wants to be heard. With excoriating dialogue and sharp, compassionate insights, Nina Raine crafts a penetrating play about belonging, family and the limitations of communication.Nominated for both the Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for Best Play, Tribes premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 2011. Under the direction of David Cromer, the comic drama is currently receiving its North American premiere in New York City at Barrow Street Theatre through June 3, 2012....

Title : Tribes
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781848421219
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 96 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Tribes Reviews

  • Ceilidh
    2019-03-29 11:03

    A lot's inevitably lost in the reading (plays are, after all, supposed to be performed) but this was still a wonderful read.

  • Rachelle Urist
    2019-03-28 14:53

    A fine play about a hearing family with a deaf son - whom they don't hear. He is raised as though he's not deaf. He speaks. He reads lips. But he is alienated from everyone, and he alone in the family is emotionally attuned to others. When he meets his soulmate, Sylvia, a woman who was not born deaf, he discovered the world of signing, the deaf community, a whole community of people like himself. As he discovers who he is, he recognizes the distinct flaws of each of his family members. There is a narcissistic father, inflated with his sense of superior intellect, and deaf to the needs of his children. His mother, a writer, is also an enabler, allowing her husband to steamroll over everyone. An intellectual brother is fragile and boorish, and their sister, an aspiring singer, is full of self-doubt. The two "disabled" persons in the play are the most able and competent in the group, and though they unbalance the rest of the group, they they eventually help them to regain their footing. The play is notable for its originality of form and subject.

  • Nicki
    2019-03-26 12:55

    The second half feels rushed to accommodate its happy ending. There were a lot of interesting questions and ideas raised, but the philosophy and intrigue of looking in on the deaf world and its parallels to the hearing world were not enough to keep this plot in tact, let alone to give it the momentum every good play should have. The family was pretty detestable, in my opinion, and as there was little else to this play, I wasn't in love. It seemed like a good rough sketch that needed a bit more polishing and exploration.

  • غيداء
    2019-04-15 09:12

    My review will be on my blog (in Arabic), I might write an English review .. but to be honest .. I can't promise that :)BTW, I watched the play LIVE in Sheffield on the 22nd of July 2017, months later I finished the book; original script. Through the whole period .. whilst reading .. I had all the players in my mind, their voices, gestures, faces and even silence! I LIVED with this play! It's one of those unique experiences .. that you don't undergo everyday!

  • Marcos
    2019-04-02 07:50

    A hilarious play about a self-absorbed family of narcissists who are coming to grips with the youngest sibling, Billy and his budding relationship with Sylvia, a woman going deaf. Billy is born deaf; Sylvia is becoming deaf. It's an exploration of what happens when disability takes over, and makes one unable to communicate- the sadness, its frustrations, and how being silenced leads to feeling like one doesn't matter.

  • Paigeforeman
    2019-03-26 14:53

    Profound play about language, oppression, belonging, and family! I identify as Deaf and even though the play is essentially appropriative of my culture, Raine tells the truth. Its a play for hearing people written by a hearing person and it doesn't pretend to be more than that. That said, she did her homework on Deaf culture. Bravo. I hope to direct this play at my church.

  • Madison Merkel
    2019-04-18 11:54

    What an incredibly beautiful and poignant story to summarize what it means to be apart of a community and to find one's identity. This piece truly touched me, and I would love to see it staged.

  • Daniel
    2019-04-19 14:09

    A little meat in its construction, at least in terms of the pingponging careers of its characters, but who cares in a play this incisive and crushing? Funny and agonizing.

  • Matthew
    2019-04-19 11:05

    What kinds of requirements are necessary for tribal membership? A basic understanding of tribes is that they are social organizations based on the idea of kinship. With her play Tribes, Nina Raine introduces the defining features (or issues) of identity politics as a replacement for kinship. Families are no longer enough, it seems, for some to serve as the basis for their identities. Instead, other features like deafness--or sexuality, gender identity, fat identity, or religious affiliation, to name but a few--become replacements for individual and group identity and expression. This situation becomes all the more tragic when in the play, language itself becomes the crux of tribal identity while simultaneously losing its stability. The eccentric family of this play may be familiar to those with knowledge of the Glass and Tenenbaum families. There’s the coarse, overbearing father, the neurotic child geniuses, the doting mother, all of them upper middle class intellectuals with a penchant for shouting at each other. This shouting, it seems, is their way to express not only their intellectual superiority to each other but also their affection for each other. What a pity, then, that because he is deaf, poor Billy is relegated to the sidelines of all of this action. Family members often pause in their fighting to catch Billy up to speed on who said what. Sometimes, they remind each other to slow down so Billy can keep up with them. Sometimes, they even forget that Billy is in the room. Billy is a superior lipreader so they can count on him to keep up with most of what is said; however, never do they consider that spoken language itself, or their attitudes toward it, is the problem. Imagine all of the shouting matches that could take place if Billy could sign in on the conversations!Needless to say, this situation is problematic, and Raine sets up a showdown by introducing a girlfriend for Billy who not only knows sign language but who also provides him with access to Deaf cultural identity. Soon enough, Billy abandons his old tribe for a new one, and mudslinging soon follows. What’s interesting is that Raine seems not to take a firm stance on whether family identity or Deaf cultural (family?) identity is the better option. Both are flawed: while on the one hand, Billy’s family dismisses signed languages as “Broken English” and “Deaf identity” as inferior, if not ridiculous, on the other hand, Billy finds that Deaf cultural identity itself is imbued with hierarchies that judge members based on their family background and their skill level in sign language. Billy is born deaf so that places him a few rungs up higher on the Deaf cultural ladder than his girlfriend Sylvia, who started becoming deaf later in life; however, Billy just learned how to sign so back down the ladder he falls. Neither option presents to Billy a membership package with full-benefits. Instead, he seems stuck between both tribes. A tragic situation, indeed.Less successful is the plot itself. Once the first shots of the tribal wars happens, the plot moves at a rapid pace. The conclusion, in particular, feels too neatly wrapped up. With so much at stake, a reconciliation where all of the characters take center stage for a hug seems unlikely. Will Billy’s family start learning how to sign? Does Billy drop his Deaf tribe to rejoin his family one? And what about Sylvia? Does she get to be a part of this crazy family too? All this said, it is rare to find a family who doesn’t face such problems, especially when they boil down to issues of identities. At least Billy’s family attempts to express their love beyond spoken or signed languages--through a hug. While this may not be the answer to this thorny issue of tribal membership, it does feel like a giant step towards it.

  • Viv Ster
    2019-04-10 11:04

    So much packed into something so compact--truly plurality. An ememplar of the philosophical and the personal tied with crude, ironic, sardonic, slapstick humor. Characters that resonate and live on.Will need to reread

  • Jobie
    2019-04-18 12:13

    I think I'd prefer to give this 3.5 stars but having a hard time doing that.Dialogue is great. Characters seem fully fleshed out. SPOILERSMy biggest problem with the play is the believablity of some of the events and the overdone foreshadowing.For example, Billy's job seems a bit far fetch then you realize that he gets fired because he was faking it. It happens quickly in the course of events and the job, his being able to fake it so easily (and it was a high stakes job) just didn't ring true, maybe because I wasn't given enough time to believe it.Also, there is some obvious foreshadowing by Ruth that Billy's brother will love his new girl friend Sylvia. Whether or not he lovers her is to be determined (he might hate her, the cliche that love and hate are close emotions is never spoken). But he kisses her and that is partial cause for the break up of Billy and Sylvia. Yes, we saw it coming. Did I believe it . . . MEH. How can I see something coming and still not believe it? Good question.I'm sure it was well staged by actors who could make the audience believe it (I have a lot of faith in actors and their ability to make an audience love a mediocre script). This is more than a mediocre script and story but just a few challenges for me.

  • Asha
    2019-04-18 12:04

    I'm not sure how I feel about this??? I mean, I was invested in it, I got hooked into the plot from the jump, but... Now I'm just really conflicted and a little ticked off.(view spoiler)[ Like literally, this started out really uncomfortable, like just an generally not-so-great family situation that quickly turned abusive. I was hoping that Billy would gain the self-worth to realize he deserved better than he was getting from them and I thought YAY when he finally stood up to his family, but that about faced quick, fast, and in a hurry. So now I'm just sitting here, super disturbed, feeling like I'm watching a friend get back in that horrid relationship they just got out of. I mean, Daniel might make the effort to learn for him, but that doesn't fix this family's problems, like, wow, they need to be in counseling.(hide spoiler)]

  • Sarah
    2019-03-30 10:53

    A smart -- at times obscurely clever -- but emotional play about a family with cultural difficulties revolving around communication. The play is a weird for experience for me, both in print and onstage. As a hard of hearing woman, most of Billy's isolation isn't a news flash to me. The value lies more in his girlfriend's experience of going deaf; the play's heart resides in her, as it should, given that she is the bridge between both worlds. One might think this play, and its reconciling ending, would offer comfort to me. Oddly, its powerfulness only makes me feel more singular and alone -- as this was written for hearing audiences, by a hearing woman, whose sympathy lies more with the hearing (in spite of great efforts to illuminate the deaf son).

  • Moushumi Ghosh
    2019-04-06 09:02

    Rating a book is the wrong way to go about this play. I should have seen the performance! This is a brilliant play. The core of the book is the idea of hearing and being heard and its myriad connotations in a family that has a deaf child. There are so many layers here I cannot even begin to unravel. I think I had an advantage in reading this play - I could stop to admire the layers. On stage, it would have just rushed me by. I haven't read too much drama since college and now I am tempted to change that.

  • Bobby Sullivan
    2019-04-14 14:14

    This one's a tough one to rate. I had a hard time getting into the play in the first few scenes in Act 1, but it got better and better with every turn of the page. When it finally dawned on me that the overall theme is communication, all the pieces started to fit together. The profanity in Act 1 seemed gratuitous to me, but now I wonder if it would seem more organic to me if I did a re-read from the beginning.

  • Jonas
    2019-04-10 14:05

    "Tribes" may be a piece of theatre, but it loses none of it's power when put on paper. Raine's wit is razor-sharp and, although at times not as well-used as it could be, is nonetheless charming and amusing whilst also gently pushing a subtext which is well-reasoned and articulate.If the play is being performed near you, see it - you'll laugh, but you'll think, too. If not, grab the script and sit down for two hours of frenetic action that is anything but pointless.

  • Jack Cheng
    2019-03-25 16:03

    The play is about a family that argues a lot. The father believes that by being contrary he rises above the masses. The youngest son is deaf and meets a girl who introduces him to deaf culture and sign language. Clever use of language and subtext -- sometimes the words distract from what a character actually feels and so the "deaf" might "listen" better than the hearing. In Act 2 there is speech, signing and super titles of inner thought. Look forward to seeing a performance of this.

  • Iheke Ndukwe
    2019-04-16 14:02

    A very very clever play. I was a bit turned off by the lack of directionality in the early scenes of the first Act, however once the play got it's act together it told a very simple story - wonderfully. The second act is the play's weak point as it is far less weighty than the first act and a few key scenes feel slightly rushed in order to hit the 1hr 30 running time, but all of that said I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and felt it was a play that I learned much from.

  • Cathy Sprankle
    2019-04-17 16:15

    An insular family of intellectuals is shaken when the youngest son, who is Deaf but has never learned sign language, begins dating a woman who, while not Deaf herself, grew up in a Deaf family and is fluent in sign language. The play effectively explores interesting themes of interaction and belonging, but didn’t resolve the plot lines to my satisfaction.

  • G. Derek Adams
    2019-03-23 09:13

    Really interesting piece, sometimes a bit too pleased with its own cleverness. The technical demands would be high for 'live' captioning the signed communication, as well as the expertise required by the deaf actors is pretty intimidating.

  • Tom Elliott
    2019-04-10 12:15

    The first act seemed like another dysfunctional family black comedy, but the second act brought home the ways in which minorities of any sort are so often marginalized, especially by those closest to them. The web of rationalization is appropriately uncomfortable.

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    2019-03-26 13:57

    This play is actually still onstage in London at the writing of this review. It is a great capture of what it is like to be deaf in a society that doesn't leave room for it. And a dysfunctional family.

  • Kristy
    2019-04-12 08:54

    Communication isn't easy... I love this play. What an important piece.

  • Robert
    2019-03-22 09:12

    Lovely drama about a dysfunctional family and the push-and-shove relationship between universalism and sectarianism.

  • Bizzy Day
    2019-04-16 10:48

    Totally compelling. I'm still processing it and I don't trust myself to review properly without putting a load of spoilers in!

  • Isabelle Smith
    2019-04-07 11:57


  • Anne Martyn
    2019-04-14 09:56

    Not for the faint of heart or high school production - the language is outrageous and extreme - but also crazy-sharp and witty. Entertaining and painful at the same time.

  • Steve Mayer
    2019-03-27 10:14

    A powerful play and somehow an even more powerful read after seeing the play.

  • Selena Beckman-Harned
    2019-04-02 10:14

    A story that needs to be told -- but I believe it has been better told elsewhere.

  • Hannah
    2019-04-17 07:51

    Themes: family and belonging.