Here’s our guide to three ground-breaking theatre companies working to improve access…
Many theatres offer accessible performances and audio descriptions but if you’re interested in world-class theatre which creatively embeds these elements into the play itself, then seek out Graeae. Founded in 1980 this trail-blazing company places deaf and disabled talent centre stage and also encourages new writing which challenges preconceptions.
Rather than audio description and signing being tacked-on elements they build them artistically into the very fabric of the play. They call this the “aesthetics of access.” They also give venues guidance on accessibility and working with deaf and disabled actors.
Do visit their website to find out more. On it you can also watch an audio described and subtitled video written and directed by blind actor, Tim Gebbels. This is great for anyone thinking about acting as a career, as it follows blind and visually impaired actors through a day of rehearsal and shows how they adapt the process to meet their needs.
Extant is Britain’s leading professional performing arts company of visually impaired people. Like Graeae, Extant also work with venues to improve accessibility and improve understanding of the requirements of visually impaired actors and customers.
They run workshops and tour plays featuring innovative staging and set designs which constantly push the boundaries of sensation and awareness. Recently they have been giving audiences a unique experience with a piece called Flatland which takes place in a pitch-black world of sensation and sound within a disused church. It features robotics and immersive action – thrilling stuff.
Another fantastic theatre company who believe that all young people, regardless of their background, race and ability, should get the chance to work creatively together, is Chickenshed .
Founded in 1974, their first venue was literally a chicken shed, and they have expanded to produce an exciting range of theatre shows featuring adults, teenagers and children. They also run workshops in schools to encourage inclusion and do outreach work through other “sheds” in the UK.
Check out the What’s On section on their website to find out about their great range of shows – what’s even better is that some of their performances are discounted for 13 – 25 year olds thanks to a partnership with StubHub! Click here to find out more about joining one of their theatre groups.
All images taken from the official websites mentioned.
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