Sensory Theatre

Posted by on Feb 4, 2020 in Blog

Theatre can be a great leisurely and social activity to enjoy. But sometimes it can be difficult if you can’t see what’s happening, at these times it’s great to have Audio Description.

That being said, in the last couple of years, there has been more performances that has audio description integrated into the show or are so dependant on dialogue that no extra description is needed. These types of theatre performances are so much more accessible and inclusive for those who have low or no vision.

On Wednesday 16th October 2019, I attended the short performance “Simone” at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) with a small group of other Visually Impaired people of varying ages. This piece was scripted and designed by a third-year student and it was specifically created for a Visually Impaired audience. The idea was that the audience members would either be visually impaired already, or those who were fully sighted would wear a blindfold, which was placed under each seat, so that all audience members would experience the performance as intended.

“Simone” was a short drama with an unexpected ending that emphasized change (I won’t say any more in case you don’t want spoilers!). The show began with a short word from the creator informing us of the reason behind the show, the background and an explanation of the set. From here began sound effects – rain hitting the window and a tap spouting water. These sound effects and stage set up gave a homey feel, it was a very relaxing start. On the other hand, I did feel that this went on a bit too long. We were sat there for a good five minutes if not more just listening to the effects. Maybe a little too much emphasis was given to the audio at this point? but hey, at least it was effective.

Once the story had begun other senses were brought in. The warmth of the cosy room on your skin, the sound of the actor’s shuffling feet to move around the performance area, the smell of perfume when it was being sprayed onto clothes. It certainly gave a more 3D experience that more conventional theatre.

It was a different way to experience theatre. It was a great evening, and one of the best points to note was that the creator didn’t just assume that it was all done successfully, but she waited around at the end to listen to feedback. There was plenty of positive input and a small amount of constructive criticism. But hopefully, from this feedback, this will help to encourage and develop more of this type of theatre experience!

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