Thursday, 10 October 2013

There's no business like show business..

I really should blog more often - mostly because every time I decide to write one it takes me at least half an hour to log in as I always forget what my login info is! Oh well, I'm in now!

Today I thought I would blog about Theatre trips. We have taken Ethan to a number of shows, including some which have had audio description. The first time we really became aware of the amazing resource of audio description was about 3 years ago when we took Ethan to see the Railway Children at Waterloo station.
Ethan with the star of the Railway Children!
The experience was fantastic! Audio-description at a stage show involves someone describing live what is happening on stage to visually-impaired members of the audience. Ethan wore a pair of headphones attached to a small pack thing (sorry I'm not very technical and have no idea what it should be called!). During the performance whatever is happening on the stage is described, whilst also allowing the actors dialogue to be heard as well. Only a few performances are available during a run of a show, so it's worth booking ahead - the good thing about it is there is no extra cost for it and in our experience Ethan's ticket is actually usually cheaper.

The problem with taking Ethan to some shows is that they can sometimes depend on the audience being able to follow what is happening visually in order to understand the plot etc. Without audio description Ethan can become a bit lost in terms of what is going on. We would also have to try and describe what is going on to him without disturbing those sitting around us. With the audio description Ethan is able to sit back and enjoy the show, just like everyone else.

All of the shows we have seen with audio description have also included a touch tour beforehand. This is an opportunity to go on the stage, behind the scenes and sometimes meet the actors. The touch tour is usually taken by the people who also do the describing. They take you through the layout of the stage, give you the chance to hold some of the props and to talk to some of the actors. Having the chance to get up close to where the action will be taking place really adds to the understanding of what is going on, when the play starts.

Trying on props
Another play we saw recently which had audio description was The Butterfly Lion. This play is really lovely and is currently on tour around the UK - I couldn't find a link with all the dates, but it's on in Nottingham later this month We saw it at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester, which is a lovely theatre. Ethan was able to wander around the stage beforehand, which he loved as there was a 'hill' he could climb up and down. He also got to get up close to the Lion puppets and meet the actors in their costumes. The actors were lovely and explained what characters they were playing and what costumes they were wearing. 

During the performance Ethan had his headphones on and could follow everything that was going on. He really enjoyed the play and II was able to relax and enjoy the play too!

Some plays have excellent narrative, so it doesn't matter too much if Ethan can't see what is happening on stage. One such show is the Horrible Histories - Barmy Britain. We saw the show earlier this year at the Garrick theatre in London. The show involves two actors taking on various characters from history and explaining various 'barmy' things about Britain through dialogue and song. Ethan and Jasper loved the show and we all enjoyed singing along! Although Ethan couldn't see the costumes or facial expressions, he was still able to get immense enjoyment out of going because the script was so good and the actors were so clear in their speech. The show is funny and both boys now know what happened to all of Henry VIII's wives through the power of song! We are going to see Barmy Britain part 2 later this month, and Ethan is being given the chance to meet the cast beforehand (this is down to the power of Twitter!). Here's a link to their website

Unfortunately not all major shows have audio description performances - we were hoping to take Ethan to the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical, but they don't have any AD performances at the moment - so BOO HISS! to them!