VocalEye and the Teen Shakespeare Program
This week, with rehearsals for Love’s Labour’s Lost in full swing, our talented pre-pros hard at work in the studio, and opening night just three weeks away (!), we here at CTYP are really starting to feel the energy crackling in the air. For our Teen Shakespeare Program productions in particular, there is something really incredible about watching the team, the play, and the space come together. And, as you might know, the unique magic of theatre becomes all the more palpable when it’s breathing life into an outdoor space.
With that in mind, we are thrilled to once again have VocalEye Descriptive Arts Society join us on August 6th at 7:30pm to provide live audio description to our blind and low vision patrons. VocalEye is committed to making theatre an accessible experience for all audiences by providing descriptions of the set, characters, costumes, and physical actions through individual audio transmitters. VocalEye has worked alongside Carousel Theatre for Young People since 2012 and has described shows such as The Wizard of Oz, The Cat in the Hat, Seussical, Busytown, and last year’s TSP performance of Hamlet.
Steph Kirkland, Executive Managing Director of VocalEye in Vancouver, was able to speak about VocalEye’s partnership with CTYP and share in some of the excitement for our upcoming Love’s Labour’s Lost performance:
CTYP: What does theatre experience mean to you?
SK: Theatre has always been a magical experience for me. It’s about getting lost in another world, about transformation and imagination.
CTYP: What steps does VocalEye take to help capture that feeling or energy?
SK: We try to reflect the world of the play in our descriptions through the language we use, rhythm and tone of voice. We can’t possibly supply every visual detail, nor would we want to. We carefully choose the details that best support the story and the world of the production, while leaving enough room for the listener’s imagination to complete the picture.
CTYP: Are descriptions for young audiences done differently than for adults? Are there certain elements that a describer for young audiences might hone in on?
SK: Describing for young audiences is new territory in the description world and we consulted our mentor from the US about this before approaching Carousel in 2012. She advised us to keep introductory notes short and to simplify our vocabulary and to use analogies that would be familiar to young people (our describers who are parents have a bit of an advantage here!). We always take our cues from the production, so that the content, vocabulary and style inform all our choices.
CTYP: Love’s Labour’s Lost, like all TSP productions, is an outdoor performance. How does a venue contribute to the theatre experience and does it impact VocalEye’s descriptions?
SK: The venue makes a big difference to the experience, especially to the acoustics. How does the sound fill the space? How much space is there to fill? How many people are in the audience? How far away are we from the stage and the performers? In a small venue, the feeling is intimate. We sit close to the performers and can follow their location on stage by the sounds they make. When performers are mic’ed through speakers, it’s hard to know where they are on stage. Indoor venues are controlled environments and have a certain formality. An outdoor venue brings the openness of the elements, the air and sunshine, the coolness of evening, the ambient sounds of planes, traffic and birds. The sweet vibrancy of a summer evening infuses the production itself, adding its own magic. The extra touches Carousel provides, like blankets, beverages and snacks, add to the open, relaxed “summer picnic” feeling. We also found out last year that our equipment works very well outdoors!
CTYP: Is there an aspect of Love’s Labour’s Lost that you, or the describers, are looking forward to most?
SK: Our describer, Rick Waines, is a long time friend and colleague of the director, Mike Stack, and this will be his first Shakespeare description, so he’s very excited!
VocalEye will be describing Love’s Labour’s Lost on August 6th at 7:30pm. We recommend arriving early to take advantage of pre-show descriptions. To reserve seats for VocalEye patrons and their guests (please let us know if you will be bringing a service dog), click here or phone our box office at: 604-685-6217. Advanced booking for VocalEye patrons and their guests is FREE.