Written by Zoe Moores, PhD student at Roehampton University
October and November saw the first series of events in the Respeaking at Live Events research project. It was a really busy and exciting time for everyone involved and I couldn’t have done it without the support of so many people. Let me take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to everyone who took part – the staff at Stagetext and at the venues, friends who came to help out, the presenters and respeakers and, of course, you, the audience.
Around 15 people attended each event and audience members included people with a range of hearing levels and native languages, which led to some extremely interesting post-show discussions and feedback. Everyone who participated learned more about respeaking and the technical challenges posed by working on location.
The purpose of this round of events was to test out a variety of different technical set-ups and to see what the respeakers would need to do to provide the best access possible in each setting. Some venues had a great deal of experience with providing subtitling and captioning, whilst this was a very new form of access for others.
The Riverhouse Barn was the venue for the first two events. We began the series with a live arts performance and presentation by Quick Fix Theatre. They normally perform as a pop-up theatre group at outdoor events, but on this occasion, they combined one of their performances with a presentation on their performance philosophy and practice written just for us.
Pete Allen shared his experience of working in Drury Lane during the second event. His presentation was full of fun stories and anecdotes, which are definitely an added challenge for the respeaker, as the timing can be crucial. It was great to see all the audience sharing the jokes, despite the delay that accompanies any form of live interpretation.
The third event at the BFI St Stephen Street involved a screening of Vital Xposure’s Blue Pen and Archer’s Mark’s Notes on Blindness, followed by presentations by each creative team and a panel discussion. The audience had so many questions and it was a shame we had to leave so soon!
The final event, which fell during
Captioning Awareness Week, was a fascinating tour of the
Medicine Man Gallery at the Wellcome Collection, led by Elissavet Ntoulia. Each audience member had their own tablet, and were therefore able to control the appearance of the subtitles on their screens. The Wellcome Collection run regular tours for visitors with different access needs so it’s definitely a place to visit.
Over the course of the four events we did encounter various technical issues; some were resolved as the events continued and others will be the focus of the second round of events taking place in 2018. These will be held at a range of locations around the UK, which I hope will make them accessible to an even wider audience.
It has been great to see this project come alive over the past few months and I have really enjoyed the opportunity to talk to everyone involved and to hear your thoughts about the events. All your feedback and comments will feed into the next round and it would be great to see you there. More details will follow soon!
In the meantime, if you have any questions or would simply like to get in touch, my email address is [email protected]. I’m also becoming more active on Twitter, where you can find me @Zoe_Moores
Wishing you a happy and healthy 2018,