Every word counts

Creative Captioning

Captions that are artistically integral to a theatrical production are referred to as creative captions. A number of different techniques can be used to present the text of a play to the audience visually, including embedding captions within the set, the use of projections, the inclusion of images, or other innovations around the format of the text.

In order to be truly successful, creative captioning must be considered as a form of access. Captioning is about creating an equal opportunity for the d/Deaf, deafened and hard of hearing community to experience arts and culture. To provide this in a creative way, access needs to be embedded within the vision and realisation of the production from the very beginning. The captions provided should be high quality, consistent, continuous and verbatim, and the end user’s experience should be considered throughout the process.

Interest in creative captioning is growing, and Stagetext can help you to ensure that great access is maintained when working in new formats. If you are interested in embedding accessible creative captions in your production, there are a few practical things you’ll need to consider right from the start:

  • Display options: there are many different techniques you can use to display your captions, including static or moveable projections, incorporating traditional caption boxes into the set, or closed captioning using tablets or phones. The size and type of venue you are working in is likely to be a factor in deciding which option to take. If you intend to have captions that move around, it will be important to ensure you are providing visual cues so that the d/Deaf, deafened and hard of hearing audience are able to follow the narrative.
  • Font size and colour: this should be easily readable without straining the eyes. Whichever display option you use, if you have too much text to read at once this will become tiring for the audience.
  • Formatting: when creating a script to display during a performance it is important to consider how the lines are delivered, and to format the script according to pauses and intonation, as well as including character names and sound effects.
  • Outputting: if you plan on captioning every performance, a member of the crew will need to be in charge of outputting for every show. This person will need to be familiar with the show and the outputting software. The captions should be cued precisely so that they never fall behind or run ahead of what is being said on stage.
  • If captions are integral to the show for all audience members, everyone should be able to see them clearly no matter where they sit. We recommend that you allocate specific seats with the best view of the captions for audience members who are d/Deaf, deafened or hard of hearing.

If you would like to find out more about creative captioning, please contact Olivia at Stagetext on olivia@stagetext.org.

The Arts Council
The Arts Council
The Arts Council