Planning your first audio described show

You’re planning your first audio described performance – excellent!

The first thing to decide on when you’re scheduling an audio described performance is the time of day. Will it be a matinee or an evening show?

Consider how easily your blind or partially sighted patrons will be able to get to and from the venue at night. Think about parking and public transport links that are available nearby, and balance that against the blind or partially sighted patrons who work during the day, and may not be able to attend a weekday matinee show.

Next, work out your timescales. Audio describers need time to prepare for a show, and you need time to set everything up, so consider the following:

  • Script and programme You’ll need to give a copy of the script and the programme to the audio describers at their first visit so they can begin to prepare their introduction and description.
  • DVD of the show. They’ll also need a current DVD of the show, normally of the press night. Describers view the DVD to focus on the parts of the production that need description and practise timing their delivery to fit in the natural pauses in dialogue.
  • Date of the AD performance. This needs to be scheduled so the describer has time to see the performance live at your venue or another venue (if it’s on tour before it reaches you) and write their material. AD dates are often booked towards the end of a run for this reason.
  • Time of the Touch Tour. Fix the time, probably 90 minutes before the show. NB you need to discuss this with the company so it will fit in with warm-ups or complicated stage set-ups.
  • Equipment. If you do not own your own equipment, do you have access to audio description equipment on the day of the performance, and are your technical team aware of how to set it up?
  • Talk to the creative, marketing and technical departments. If your venue has never hosted an audio described performance, talk to these departments about what is involved well in advance, and ensure that they are happy with the potential date for the show. When the next show is scheduled, you should inform them as early as possible, so the whole theatre is aware of accessible performances.
  • Clashes. Although it’s sometimes unavoidable, try to schedule your show so it doesn’t clash with other audio described shows nearby. Do discuss your accessible performances with the marketing department, and other nearby theatres.

Now go to: Booking an audio describer