Hi, Sue here.
I wanted to tell you about the work of an amazing organisation called Turtle Keys Arts which is currently working with a company we’ve talked about before in our blogs – Extant Theatre Company. Turtle Keys Arts was formed in 1989 as a unique and ground-breaking accessible space and they continue to put accessibility at the heart of everything they do.
Together with Extant they have produced a play of a classic script: The Chairs by Eugene Ionesco. This Absurdist tragic farce concerns two characters, known as Old Man and Old Woman, frantically preparing chairs for a series of invisible guests who are coming to hear an orator reveal the Old Man’s discovery. Elements of the plot are deliberately vague – is this a post-apocalyptic world and are the Old Man and Old Woman the last two people on the planet? As the invisible guests arrive, the two characters speak to them and reminisce cryptically about their lives.
The Chairs is acted by two visually impaired actors and the central premise of the play that the guests are invisible to the audience resonates with a blind or visually impaired audience – no-one can see them. It’s a very clever production which also incorporates audio description into the narrative text with the the actors’ pre-recorded voices providing the visual descriptions a visually impaired audience would normally hear through headphones. This gives the entire audience the same experience and demonstrates the way Extant pushes the boundaries of sensation and awareness.
Turtle Keys Arts is helping Extant with a three year programme to tour The Chairs to venues and provide loads of accessible extras such as Q&As, workshops and touch tours. It will provide excellent training for venues on how to make their shows more accessible and cope with the needs of visually impaired actors.
Borrow our Touch to See book, Spotlight on the Stage, to find out more about visiting the theatre and what it’s like to attend a touch tour.