Our production of The Chairs was directed and performed by blind and visually impaired people. Extant also worked closely with theatre staff and volunteers at our venues, Arena Wolverhampton and The Albany, Deptford, to heighten awareness of how every aspect of the theatre experience can be enhanced to include visually impaired people.
We consulted with local visually impaired groups to assess and feed back their needs into venue planning and offer, with all performances delivered with an accompanying touch tour of the costumes and unusual and exciting tactile set, as well as programme notes in a variety of formats.
Our aim was to leave a legacy which empowers theatres to welcome visually impaired people not just as audience members but as actors, directors, volunteers and staff too. Qualitative feedback from venues and staff teams shows a strong, positive impact of our work with them, while our audience survey responses evidence high engagement with the themes and innovative accessibility the company aimed to explore. We are now in the process of conducting a detailed evaluation of the tour and training's impact to feed back into our practice.
“We are very excited about Extant’s performance of ‘The Chairs’ and can see how the training element of this project may form a blueprint for working with other venues.”
Daniel King, Albany Theatre
“The training was brilliant. It was done in a detailed way and put me at ease with a light-hearted friendly atmosphere. “
Staff feedback, Albany Theatre
“We involved our bar staff and volunteers in this training as well as our technical team, box office and marketing staff. It’s a fantastic opportunity to really welcome blind and partially sighted people and to think about access in a creative way. It gave us all an enormous amount of confidence, helped us plan for issues that might arise and helped us to meet the specific needs of the visually impaired people who came – many of whom hadn’t been here before.”
Andrew Jemmett, Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton