Every word counts

'Having access to the dialogue and action was revolutionary'

Lucy Coelho

Although I'm profoundly deaf, my parents wanted me to enjoy theatre to the full. Until I was 17, I'd read the plays in advance, either buying them (expensive) or asking the theatre to post me the scripts (it didn't always work!), and taking them with me. When no scripts were available my family would make notes or mouth what was happening. I'd also follow as many visual clues as I could on stage and piece together a story in my head. However, it was a struggle, as I'd leave feeling drained and with a headache from concentrating so much. When everyone laughed, I often had a delayed reaction, making me feel isolated.

While I know some sign language, it's not enough to follow an entire British Sign Language (BSL) interpreted performance and my deafness is too severe for the loop system. So I was starting to get frustrated until I saw a Stagetext captioned production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. It was revolutionary having such instant access to the action and dialogue, especially as it's no mean feat to lipread or memorise Shakespeare!

What also impressed me was how committed the Stagetext captioners are to describing sounds on stage as closely as possible – I have 10% hearing and can hear sounds more clearly when I either lipread the word or read how they sound via captions.

Since then, I've gone to captioned shows for several reasons: one of my interests is theatre, I studied plays as part of my English degree and now I'm a journalist who reviews them. So captioning helped make my job easier.

Theatres are now increasingly aware that not every deaf person wants to see a BSL interpreted performance and I turn down invites to non-captioned shows. I don't want to go through the effort of trying to follow.

The Arts Council
The Arts Council
The Arts Council