David writes: A recent (June 2016) play at Liverpool’s renowned Everyman Theatre provided a perfect example of the new initiative by a consortium of UK theatres, under their project title of Ramps on the Moon, to ‘reframe the way theatre by and for deaf and disabled people is made and seen’.
The six year project involves six theatres across the country (Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, London, Sheffield, Ipswich), with each venue producing a show each year. “Deaf and disabled people are at the heart of this project, through which the venues are developing skills in how to integrate deaf and disabled people into everything they do, and tackle the current low level of attendance by Deaf and disabled audiences.”
The Government Inspector is a wry satirical look at local bureaucracy and the pomposity (and the sheer panic!!) of small town officialdom, when a state representative is due to call.
Certainly this effort was very much in evidence from the moment this audience member walked through the door of the Everyman. As well as the usual programme seller, there was a table in the foyer with a very impressive range of audio/ visual programme aids, including full script copies in braille, and something called Sennheiser Mobile Connect, which the theatre assistant explained was there to provide either Hearing Enhancement or Audio Description for your smart phone, a facility we should look forward to seeing as standard in theatres and cinemas and other arts venues in the future. The item that most caught my attention was a small mock-up of the play’s set, so that visually impaired audience members could familiarise themselves with the back drop to the action they were about to experience.
And then, there was the play itself!! The Government Inspector is a very funny comedy set in a Russian town, taking a wry satirical look at local bureaucracy and the pomposity (and sheer panic!!) of small town officialdom, when a state representative is due to call. More audience aids included surtitle displays and signing, the latter by the cast themselves, rather than the norm of having someone standing to the side of the main action. The cast itself was fully inclusive of deaf and disabled people, particularly in the leading roles, and their disabilities rapidly became invisible, as we were too wrapped up in the action and the comedy.
As is usual at the Everyman, I had a brilliant evening, and the project’s objectives were certainly well met by this performance.
Reference: The Government Inspector programme, and discussion with Liverpool Everyman staff.