For Venues

Theatre Captioning

If you share our drive for bringing the beauty of theatre to a wider audience, we can provide two decades of expertise to help make that vision happen.

We’re passionate about giving audiences across the nation an equal chance to enjoy the arts and can be your trusted partner on that journey. Whether your theatre seats 100 or 1000, we’re here to help make your performances more accessible.

As well as deaf audiences, there are many other people who can benefit from captions. They are useful for anyone for whom English isn’t their first language, for instance, or for people who need support with concentration.

Since we were founded in 2000, we’ve been the leading supplier of captioning to UK theatres. We’ve worked with venues of all shapes and sizes, and every type of show. Whether out in the open air, inside a basement, or streamed online, we tailor our solutions to suit your space, and give audiences the best experience possible.

Whether we’re advising you on the options available, installing dedicated captioning units beside your stage or providing captions on smaller handheld screens, we can help prepare your theatre for a more accessible future.

To discuss your options, please contact one of our Theatre Programme Managers, Emily Salter and Emily Thomas.

Contact us

“Thanks to Stagetext, my lovely partner can enjoy theatre...which means we can enjoy it together. Stagetext reduces the isolation and exclusion experienced by many deaf and deafened people.”


How it works

What’s our first step?

Start by getting in touch: give us as much notice as you can. Whether this is your hundredth accessible show or your very first experience with captions, Emily Thomas and Emily Salter are on hand to help.

They’ll discuss the unique requirements of your show, and the opportunities that your space provides – as well as answering any questions you may have about captioning.

Finally, they will walk you through your options and recommend the most appropriate type of access for your space.

How do we need to prepare?

Like a great theatre show, preparation is everything. If we’ve never worked with your venue before, we’ll come and see the space for ourselves and advise you on where to place screens for the best sightlines.

We need to see a script well in advance of the performance. To provide equal access, our expert captioners add details like sound effects, character accents and off-stage sounds, and format it in short, easy-to-read line lengths.

Our captioners will then watch the show: wherever possible, it helps to sit in the auditorium so they can get the full audience experience. We’ll also need a recording, so preparation can continue away from the venue.

By seeing the show, the captioners familiarise themselves with the production timings and the cast’s performances, to ensure the captions are word perfect and in sync with the performance.

What will happen on the day?

Our captioner will arrive with plenty of time before the curtain goes up. They’ll need to set up in a place where they can see the caption box, and hear the onstage action. They may need you to point them in the right direction, so they know where to set up and to introduce them to your tech staff just in case they need any help.

We can also be there to help you set up the tech and are happy to brief your staff on what to expect from a captioned performance if need be.

Once everything’s in place, our captioner will run some tests before the show to ensure everything is plugged in correctly and all the screens are working. They will then keep things running smoothly throughout the show, cueing each line of the captions in perfect time to the performance. With our help, your whole audience can share all the laughter, tears and cheers at the same time: that’s what equal access looks like.

“Only ever attend captioned performances. They have opened up my world, and I can go with my hearing friends and actually enjoy the magic and power of live theatre.”

Nell - Caption User

Types of access

There are two kinds of access: open access, where everyone can see the captions, and closed access, where captions are provided on personal devices.

We recommend open access where possible, because that gives a more equal experience and doesn’t require the user to declare their access needs if they would prefer not to.

However, closed captions can be a better option in certain spaces. Some solutions can even be offered at every performance, giving the audience more choice on which one to attend.

Theatre captioning is designed for scripted performance. If your performance is unscripted, or includes a lot of improvisation, talk to us – live subtitling might work best for you. If you are releasing a pre-recorded performance online, check out our Online page for information on digital subtitles.

Open captioning is what we recommend, if we can make it work in the space, as it benefits everyone. We’ll install purpose-built screens beside your stage for the whole audience to see. When selling access tickets, we recommend allocating seats with the best view of both the stage and the screen.

Online, open captioning means the subtitles are turned on by default. This may not be possible on every livestreaming platform. For pre-recorded videos, subtitles can be ‘burned in’ so they are always on.

Your venue may be better suited to displaying captions on personal handheld devices. The captions are created and cued in exactly the same way as our open captions. If your venue’s seats can accommodate rests or stands to support tablets, this will improve the experience for caption users.

Online, closed captioning means the subtitles can be turned on or off by the audience members at home. This is standard on most online platforms.

This solution harnesses emerging smart glasses technology to display captions right in front of your audience’s eyes. Smart captioning glasses use automatic cues from the sound and lighting of a performance to time and display the captions. The captions themselves are prepared by an expert captioner in the same way as for a captioned performance. This technology is not widely available at this point, but you can see them in action at the National Theatre.

Creative captioning is when captions are artistically integral to the show, for example if they are part of your set design. Creative captions are developed alongside the show and are designed to complement the set and the performance. We can help you to ensure that accessibility remains at the heart of this process.

Where can we reach the right audience?

Our website is the go-to place for listings of accessible performances. Once you’ve settled on when your captioned performance will take place, we can promote it on our listings page. We just need a synopsis of the show, an image, and details about how people can book their access tickets.

Captions are useful for a very wide audience. There may be people in your audience who don’t book access tickets, but still use the captions. Some people choose not to disclose that they are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing, and others use captions for different reasons, including to aid concentration, or to support literacy. So it pays to include information on captioned performances in all of your communications.

We can also raise awareness of your accessible show to deaf audiences through our newsletter and on our social media channels.


Contact us

Ask us a question about captioning:
If you have questions about theatre captioning, please fill in the form and one of our Theatre Programme Managers, Emily Salter and Emily Thomas will be in touch.

Ready to make a booking?

Use our booking enquiries form to get a quote.

Get A Quote

List your event

If you’re putting on a captioned performance, you can share it on our website for free. Send us the details here.

Back to top