Lords and Ladies

Two Norfolk teenagers are set to join a scheme to ensure more people have the chance to enjoy performances at Norwich Theatre Royal.

Students Eilish Mullane and Katy Wright are being trained to be audio-describers and will make their debut within the theatre’s Stage Two building.

They will be giving a full audio account of what is happening on stage for any patrons who are blind or visually impaired.

And this begins with the final performance of the sold-out run of Lords and Ladies, being presented by the Norwich Theatre Royal Youth Company, on Dec 14-16.

The pair are being given intensive coaching by Matthew Piper, the theatre’s access manager and a fully trained audio describer, and say it is a really interesting process.

Katy explained: “You watch the production in rehearsal so you know what you are going to have to describe as well as working on the script. At first you watch the play without reading the words so you know what an audience member would experience without seeing anything.

“It takes a lot of practice to try and say it without overlapping. You then try to say the description while watching the play to make sure that everything fits.”

Fellow describer Eilish said it has been an interesting process. “I come from a theatre background but have never done anything like this before. It is nice to learn a new theatre skill that I have not learned before.”

And the pair hope the addition of audio-description to Lords and Ladies and future productions will encourage more people to enjoy live performance. Eliish said: “Theatre is about inclusivity and I think the more steps we can take to do that and involve more people in it, the better it will be for everyone.”

The introduction of audio description tutoring is part of a wider programme to offer even more skills and opportunities within Stage Two and the Theatre Royal’s wider learning and participation work.

The youth company’s summer 2018 production Grease will offer young people the chance to work backstage on the technical aspects of the show as well as the traditional summer opportunity to perform in a major show on the Theatre Royal stage.

Wendy Ellis, the theatre’s learning and participation director, said: “Eilish and Katy have worked incredibly hard to learn audio description and we are so pleased they will be making their debut for Lords and Ladies. It also means we can build on the work already being done in the Theatre Royal itself to enhance access to shows and we are delighted to be starting on this process in Stage Two as well.”