‘Macbeth’ to come to life for audience with sensory impairments

Actors staging one of William Shakespeare’s greatest plays are set to make history in a Cork theatre tonight for an audience with sensory impairments.

Second Age Theatre Company’s production of Macbeth will be the first “assisted performance” ever staged at the Everyman Palace Theatre.

The company will use audio description for blind and visually impaired people, and captioning for the deaf or hard of hearing to give audience members with sensory impairments full access to “the Scottish play” — Shakespeare’s shortest and bloodiest.

The performance is being facilitated by Arts and Disability Ireland with funding from the Arts Council.

There will also be a free pre-show talk in the theatre from 7pm on “the art of making theatre accessible”.

The audio description technology delivers live verbal commentary via headsets to audience members. It gives information on the visual elements of a production as it unfolds, from sets, props and costumes, to actors’ facial expressions and movements across the stage.

The commentary is delivered during the quieter moments of a performance, and only gives essential information that a blind or visually impaired person might miss.

Anyone wishing to avail of this technology should arrive 30 minutes before the show starts to pick up a headset and receiver.

Large print, braille, and audio programme notes will also be available before the play starts.

For deaf or hard of hearing audience members, captioning, which is similar to television subtitling, converts the spoken word into text, which is then displayed on caption units positioned on or next to the stage.

The captions also include the name of the character who is speaking and descriptions of any sound effects.

Second Age’s production of Macbeth is directed by David Horan. He has assembled a strong cast, including Maeve Fitzgerald, who has won numerous awards including best supporting actress in the 2010 Irish Theatre Awards and best female performer at the Dublin Fringe Festival in 2009.

She has also been nominated for best actress in the 2011 Off West End Theatre Awards.

* Macbeth runs at the Everyman Palace Theatre at 8pm tonight and tomorrow night.

Tickets, priced €25/€22 and a special rate of €18 per ticket for groups of 10 or more, are available at everymanpalace.com or on 021 4501673.


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