For the last ten years or so, a small team of audio describers has enhanced blind and partially sighted people’s enjoyment of the Derby theatres by providing a description of the visual aspects of the play.
All the describers for Derby Live are fully trained and nationally accredited.
Derby Audio Describers generally give two live performances on the last but one Saturday matinee and the final Wednesday evening for every Derby produced show. We also Audio Describe both the annual Community and Youth Theatre productions as well as some popular tours – these are usually described on the final performance.
There is nothing special about us – we are all theatre lovers and find the challenge of writing and performing, albeit unseen, exciting and worthwhile.
Our work begins on the first performance of the play. Two members of our team, supported by the friendly criticism of the rest of the team, take on the task of preparing a script to ensure that all the important visual moments are noted and rehearsed so that come the day of our performances we are word perfect.
On each of audio described performances, we offer a touch tour usually about an hour before the performances begin. We take a group onto the stage so that visually impaired people can touch the scenery, props and costumes and become acquainted with the scale of the set. The stage staff at Derby Live are very helpful and give of their time to explain any unusual features to our clients. Sometimes the actors meet with us as well. If you want to attend the Touch Tour, please book your place when you book your ticket. (We will also make sure your dog is appropriately looked after during the performance – again, please book beforehand).
Ten minutes before the production begins, we relay production notes which describe the costumes, set and who is playing which part. We sit in a soundproofed box above the back of the auditorium and speak into a microphone. Visually impaired people, using the service, use in-ear headphones, provided by the theatre, which pick up the signal from our soundproofed box. During the performance we describe the action as it takes place – the challenge being to weave the description in and out of the dialogue so that the actors’ voices can always be heard.
If you or your friends would like to experience an Audio Described performance, please enquire at the box office to ensure that they can enjoy the play by attending the audio described performances. If a group of people want to attend a performance but the dates are not suitable, we can sometimes arrange another Audio Description to order – usually for our Christmas shows at Derby Theatre or the Pantomine.
If you wish to find out more about Audio Described performances across the region, a local Community Group, Scene and Sound, have created a special website which gives information about many of the Assisted Performances across the East Midlands. The website address is www.sceneandsound.co.uk. If you sign up as a member you will receive regular emailed updates about Audio Description in all the member theatres from Scarborough to Wolverhampton.
To view and print the upcoming Audio Described performances at DerbyLive and the Royal Centre, Nottingham please click here.