Living with Hearing Loss have been in recent talks with Stagetext in finding out more about how the charity started and to highlight the amazing service they offer.
Deaf awareness weeks theme this year is Deaf inclusion, to explore the entire theme of inclusion within our community. This to me is inclusion, being able to enjoy the whole theatre experience and understand fully what is being said during a performance is what inclusion is all about!
Enjoy the read.
In 1999 Stagetext’s three founders Geoff Brown, Merfyn Williams, Peter Pullan all settled down at The Barbican to watch Antony and Cleopatra, which was being captioned for the first time ever by a travelling US company. For Peter Pullan, attending his first ever captioned theatre performance was “like day and night” compared to his previous experiences (See Peter talk more about his experience).
As well as sharing a love of theatre, Peter, Merfyn and Geoff all had different types of deafness. While many would take a trip to the theatre for granted, this was the first time that they could comfortably follow the plot, the dialogue, and subtle nuances of the actors’ performances at the same time.
Antony and Cleopatra had been part of an accessible arts tour organised by the League for the Hard of Hearing, a US organisation that had already run successful captioned performances in New York. Should Peter, Merfyn, and Geoff invite the League back, convince a UK theatre to take the lead, or take matters into their own hands?
They chose the latter, and in May 2000, Stagetext was born.
Stagetext is now busier than ever and captions over 320 theatre shows a year, produces live subtitles for talks and tours in galleries, museums, and other arts venues, and has also developed a thriving digital department producing subtitles for pre-recorded online theatre, comedy, and other online productions.
In theatres, captions look like subtitles on TV or film, displayed on large screens at the front of the theatre. A captioner is present at the performance cueing each line and timing the captions perfectly to the performance, meaning deaf, deafened and hard of hearing audiences can laugh, cry, cheer, and enjoy the show alongside everyone else.
Live Subtitling works by providing accurate real-time subtitles delivered by a highly skilled speech-to-text reporter who uses a specialist keyboard to type up to 300 words per minute. This allows for talks, tours, conferences, and panel discussions all to be made accessible in real time. – with a far higher level of accuracy than automated captions.
Since the pandemic watching cultural events online has become more popular, so whether you’re enjoying a theatre performance from the comfort of your living room, engaging with a live-streamed talk from a museum or gallery, or watching one of the countless videos available on YouTube or social media, Stagetext makes them accessible by providing deaf accessible subtitles.
If you’d like to see a captioned or subtitled event you can visit Stagetext’s website where they have the latest detailed listings, where you can search for shows by city, date, or by your favourite theatre.
You can’t book tickets directly with Stagetext, but they’ll happily point you in the right direction. Every listing on their site includes a link sending you directly to the venue, where you’ll find everything needed to get your tickets. This will include details such as best seats to use to see the captions as well if there’s any special pricing or booking procedures for caption and subtitle users.