What is it?
Audio Description in theatre is a live verbal commentary providing information on the visual elements of a production as it unfolds. From sets, props and costumes, to actors’ facial expressions, actions, visual jokes and production qualities. The description is delivered during the quieter moments of a performance and is received by the audience member via a personal headset.
How it works?
Two describers working as a team usually prepare each description. They watch the production, study the script or score, and using a DVD or video they write a description script. Once the script has been prepared, there will be a ‘dry-run’ - a live rehearsal of the description during a performance where the describers listen to each other and check their scripts for accuracy and timing. Then, on the day of the performance, the describers are positioned with a clear view of the performance, either on a monitor or from the tech box, and their description is transmitted into the auditorium via an infra-red or radio system and picked up by the patron’s headset.
Other vital elements of a good audio described performance include the pre-recorded INTRODUCTORY NOTES and the TOUCH TOUR.
Try this …
Everyone’s experience will be different but here’s how a trip to see a play works for Kira Green. Click each photo to find out more.
Many patrons particularly value the touch tour and the opportunity it gives them to gain a real, 3D understanding of the set, props and costumes.
Can anyone do it?
Good description is not about just saying what happens. It takes great skill to find exactly the right words to describe a visual moment in the time available and then deliver those words in a way that’s not going to detract, pre-empt or interrupt the listeners’ engagement with the performance. We only recommend working with trained describers. More information is available from VocalEyes or the Audio Description Association.