Posted on: Wednesday, August 22, 2012
by Tony Kinson
If you are deaf or have a hearing loss, visiting the theatre can sometimes be a challenging experience.
The Mayflower Theatre in Southampton has started to provide both BSL and captioned performances for people who are deaf or have a hearing loss.
The magic of live performance
In this blog, Gareth Carr, House Manager at The Mayflower explains why it’s important to open a dialogue to assess needs of people who are deaf or have a hearing loss and find out how accessibility can be improved.
At The Mayflower Theatre in Southampton, we’re all passionate about the arts and firmly believe that they should be readily accessible to everyone. We believe that people who are deaf or have a hearing loss should be able to attend the theatre and experience the magic of live performance.
The Mayflower is the largest theatre on the South Coast and is the third biggest in the country. We present a vast array of shows that include opera, ballet, drama and the biggest West End touring shows. Stars of the past, present and future all tread our historic boards and make this an exciting place to visit.
Accessible performances for people who are deaf or have a hearing loss
We host accessible performances for people who are deaf or have a hearing loss through BSL interpreted and captioned performances as well as audio described.
Although we don’t rest on our laurels in thinking we have fully succeeded in providing accessible performances, we hope that our work to date displays a level of commitment to promoting access at The Mayflower that can only increase.
Attendance for our accessible performances is currently quite low. In order for us to increase the number of performances that we offer, firstly we need to ensure that we have an audience out there for them and to be crystal clear in our understanding of their needs.
Through a frank, open and constructive dialogue with those in the communities that we are trying to serve, we hope that we can turn this around. We would love to receive feedback on what we do well, as well as what we could be doing better.
Signed and captioned performances
Currently we provide signed and captioned performances for any show that we have for two weeks or more. We offer two performances if the show is here for longer than four weeks. There appears to be interesting and quite differing views on these two forms of interpretation. Signed interpretation is clearly a lot more expressive and, with the right signer often very emotive. However, captioning provides for the far greater numbers that cannot sign, but albeit in a less interpretive way. With that in mind we continue to be committed to providing both services. We would of course always be interested to hear your views on that too!
Recently we’ve also invested nearly £10,000 in updating our Sennheiser hearing amplification equipment. This new equipment works to a higher specification with newer digital hearing aid technology and provides an enhanced level of amplification for those with varying levels of hearing loss.
As a venue we aim to be fully inclusive and accessible to everyone
As a venue we aim to be fully inclusive and accessible. We provide awareness training to our staff on a regular basis that most recently included a fascinating signing workshop that allowed us to understand just some of the challenges that go into interpreting a performance.
So if you’ve never been to a signed or captioned performance, then why not give it a go, there really is nothing better than the experience of live theatre.
To see a list of upcoming signed and captioned performances, please visit The Mayflower Theatre website (opens in new window). If you would like to contact The Mayflower directly, please email: email@example.com.
Do you want to know more about communication support?
It’s important to be aware of the different types of communication support in order to assess the needs of people who are deaf or have a hearing loss.
Find out how to book communication support. For more information, please contact:
Telephone: 0845 685 8000
Textphone: 0845 685 8001