Taking Flight Theatre Company’s touring production of “You’ve got Dragons” is set to raise the bar for high quality accessible theatre work for families. We are a company that has always strived to make theatre that is accessible to all, by weaving BSL, audio description, captions and a very visual style of theatre called Visual Vernacular (VV) into our performances. Access is at the very heart of everything we do; it’s a starting point in the creative process rather than an add on.
Taking Flight feel very strongly that everyone should be able to access every production on any day they choose. So what is ‘creative access’? We believe that access isn’t boring, rather that it is an exciting opportunity to develop new ways of presenting theatre, it presents challenges and in finding ways to address those challenges surprising discoveries are made.
For example – Audio description (AD) is a way to increase the access for blind and visually impaired audiences in it’s traditional guise it can be isolating and quite factual in it’s delivery. Since 2014 Taking Flight have sought to develop the inclusion of live AD and we have started to use this to a greater extent in every show, sometimes via song like our famous ‘changing songs’ or indeed, as in Romeo and Juliet in 2016, by the creation of two brand new characters. In You’ve got Dragons we have worked hard to ensure the AD is age appropriate, something that hasn’t really been done before and we are really excited about it.
British Sign Language has been part of every show since 2008 but in recent years it has become an essential part of our storytelling, adding a visual texture that makes the productions a visual treat. In recent years we have also used VV more and especially for young audiences this can often be a better choice than pure BSL.
Captions are traditionally used for D/deaf audiences who prefer to access the show by reading text rather than via BSL. As it’s a show for young audiences in You’ve got Dragons the captions are animated and fun and they have been built into the set adding yet another stimulating layer to the show.
We have also created beautiful tactile model boxes and have started to really develop our acclimatization and touch tours. These are traditionally an access tool for blind patrons; a visit to the set and meeting the actors prior to production can also have benefits for many people.
In the rehearsal space we begin with access and therefore some of the other aspects of rehearsals have to take a back seat while that is explored, which can seem a strange way around to do things and takes a bit of getting used to, but it ensures that access is central to the creative process and never an afterthought. It’s a layering process and it takes a lot of time, energy and focus from all involved. The rehearsal room can become quite noisy and buzzing with ideas and we often get caught in the ‘access cycle’. We interpret spoken English into BSL or VV which is then so beautiful or funny that we feel we then need to audio describe it but then that is often also funny and we feel we need to add in some sign language to make sure the Deaf audience don’t feel that they have missed out and so it continues. The best way to ensure we have the access covered is to ask bring people who use these access tools into rehearsals to ensure it’s working as well as we think it is.
Taking Flight have worked with some of the country’s leading BSL and VV consultants as well as tactile access materials consultants. Every year we continue to learn more about the best way to approach each individual project; there is no one size fits all, there is no box to be ticked and everyone will have an opinion about what they liked and what they didn’t. The important thing is our shows allow everyone to have a quality of experience, not the same experience as no one’s experience in theatre is the same, but an experience that allows everyone to be part of the conversation.
You’ve Got Dragons is our most accessible show to date and it’s for our most discerning audience.
Elise Davison – Co founder and Artistic Director at Taking Flight Theatre.
You’ve got Dragons is touring from 23rd March – 28th May all dates can be found on www.takingflighttheatre.co.uk we are in the process of building a new website so please look in the blog section for information.
Blackwood Miners’ Institute – 28th March – 10am and 1pm – Tickets: £5.50 Box office: 01495 227206
Y Ffwrnes, Llanelli – 31st March – 1.30pm and 3:30pm –
Tickets: £9 / £7.50 / £28 ( family)/ £12.75 ( Adult and lap seat child over 18 mths) Box Office: 0845 2263510
Barry Memorial Arts Centre – 4th April – 10.30am –
Box Office: 01446 738622
Torch Theatre Milford Haven – 12th April – 1pm and 3pm – Tickets: £8.50/£7 Box Office: 01646 695267
Chapter, Cardiff – 13th, 14th April – 6.30pm and 15th April – 2pm and 5.30pm – Tickets: £7 Box Office: 02920 304400
Wisewords Festival- Canterbury CT1 2NQ The Secret garden -1st May – 10am and 2pm Info-01227 787787
Newbridge Memorial Hall – 20th May – 2pm Tickets: £7 Box Office: 01495 243 252
Swansea Centre for Deaf People, 57a Neath Road, Swansea – 21st May – 5:30pm Tickets: £5 / £3 / 2.50 Info – 01792614786
Parc and Dare Theatre, Treorchy – 24th May – 1pm
Tickets: £5 Box Office: 08000 147 111
Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon – 27th May – 11am and 2pm
Tickets: £10/ £7 Box Office: 01874 611 622 https://theatrbrycheiniog.ticketsolve.com/shows/873570743/events?locale=en-GB
Bath Spa University – 28th May