Theatre Access / audio description

What a revelation!

On Saturday another friend with VI and I went to the Birmingham Repertory Theatre to see a production of Moliere’s Tartuffe.

I had more or less given up on going to the theatre and this was my first introduction to live audio description.

It worked like this:

We were met before the performance by the two audio describers, Judy Grundy and Janet Jackson. They are professionally trained and also work for the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford upon Avon and for ballet and opera companies.

They took us onto the stage where we met some of the actors and were shown the subtleties of the set complete with Gucci wallpaper (somewhat enlarged!) and doors and windows appropriate to a comedy written in 1660. The actors were delightful and explained their interpretation of Tartuffe and the updates that had been made to make it relevant to the present day.



Judy and Janet explained that they would describe the actions when there was no dialogue.

We were given earphones with a simple explanation on how to turn them on or off. I found them very helpful but my friend did not so, clearly this is a matter of choice and depends on the individual’s sight acuity. For this production the stage was brightly lit but I was glad to have seen it at close hand first, especially the bust of King Louis which moved rather startlingly at one point. For me, the description was perfect – intelligent and minimal.

Tartuffe has had mixed reviews in the national press but I enjoyed its topical and local update. As the play is about hypocrisy and pretension (hence the Gucci wallpaper and Versace table) these updates and local references made it all the more relevant to a Birmingham audience. Even my London grandson enjoyed and understood it!

I would really like to thank the cast and the describers for their kindness and attention to detail. And the Rep for making theatre accessible to people with VI – there were several in the audience. Unfortunately they told us that they had not been informed about the tour of the stage prior to the performance. I should also mention that they do a signed version as well for the hearing impaired.

Next stop the RSC at Stratford!

News items

Visited the huge German Market in the city centre – full of colour and delicious smells.

Listened to My Antonia by Willa Cather, downloaded from Audible about early settlers in Nebraska. Fascinating and worth listening to.

Also listened to  which was worrying about early treatment under the NHS.

This entry was posted in Art, Birmingham, low vision, Theatre and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Theatre Access / audio description

  1. heavenali says:

    So glad this was a positive experience Bridget. I do love The Rep theatre – I didn’t go to that production because I went to the previous two – and I am feeling the squeeze these days.

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