An audience at a performance

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.

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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.

Now go to: Understanding audiences