Plea for volunteers to lend a voice to HMT shows

Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA) and Audio Describers Association (ADA) Aberdeen are looking for people willing to share their love of the theatre to help those with sight problems enjoy performances at His Majesty’s Theatre.

Tuesday, 9th October 2012, 5:39 pm

Volunteers at the city theatre provide a free service to people with sight loss by giving an audio description of a wide selection of Saturday matinee performances.

The audio – which details visual images and plot developments as well as explaining silences or unexpected noises - is delivered via a headset linked to a volunteer commentator in a sound-proof booth who simultaneously views the production and describes the finer details of the performance in between the acting dialogue.

But the band of volunteers has been seriously depleted, and APA and ADA urgently need more volunteers to help out.

How much the work is appreciated is explained by theatre-goer Mary Rasmussen who went blind slowly over many years.

“My mother worked in the Tivoli and the Beach Pavilion and I taught dancing for many years, so the theatre was a very big part of my life,” she said.

“I had almost given up going as I missed out on so much and felt despondent about it, now audio description brings theatre alive for me once again.

“After years of peering through binoculars and later attempting to piece the action together from the dialogue, with audio description I understand exactly what is going on. I can appreciate the beauty of described costumes, the flexibility of sets and the nuances in the acting which add clarity to the plot.

“I now enjoy and look forward to productions and cannot thank the describers enough for their invaluable contribution and dedication.”

“We have been working with the dedicated team at ADA Aberdeen for a number of years to ensure the quality provision of audio described performances at His Majesty’s Theatre,” said APA creative learning manager Johanna Duncan.

“Audio description is key to making theatre accessible to customers with sight loss and our enthusiastic team of describers is instrumental in making this happen.

“We have a regular number of theatre-goers using the audio description service who just love coming to see productions at HMT – and they would simply miss out, if it wasn’t for this great and inclusive service by a dedicated team of describers.”

As well as a love of performing arts, a volunteer describer needs to be able to watch, listen, summarise and communicate clearly what is seen on stage and have a commitment to providing a service for the community.

It is open to anyone over 18, and free training will be provided but time for training and attending theatre performances is essential.

Anyone interested in finding out more should contact APA Creative Learning manager Johanna Duncan on 01224 337664 or email [email protected]