Chloe Phillips: Audio Description and The Importance of Being Described… Earnestly?

An Image of Chloe Phillips during her performance of The importance of being described... earnestly
Chloe Phillips in Taking Flight Theatre's production of As You Like It.

Audio description is offered as an afterthought at major theatres. When it is available, it’s not usually very interesting.

Does anybody else find this annoying?

Unlimited have commissioned me to explore making a play that has audio description at its heart – as a creative tool. The AD will be just as integral as the story, the characters, the staging as everything else in the process.

The point is to give you, if you’re a Very Important (or Visually Impaired) Person like me, choice. It’s not just one voice telling you what’s going on from another person’s perspective. We’ll give you a fuller picture of the action using all the actors’ observations to enable the audience to form their own opinion. And that’s just for starters.

I hope it will be the beginning of a new style of AD, designed to be equally entertaining for an entire audience, VI or non-VI.

However, there’s no point in creating this if there are no takers. Yes, it’s for VI and non-VI equally, but AD wouldn’t exist if it hadn’t been created out of necessity for a VI audience, and after all, it was borne from my frustration at not being catered for as a visually impaired customer.

So, I need help. That’s not a general statement (though maybe it should be) – I need to know why it’s such a struggle getting VI audiences into the theatre. Or, at least, why we don’t opt in for AD when it’s offered. That’s certainly what I’ve been finding locally in Cardiff theatres. We cannot get people to AD’d shows.

Please tell me what works, or doesn’t work, for you. What are the best and worst experiences of theatre, access and AD that you’ve had? What is your ideal experience?

The point of this project is to make AD empowering and exciting.

Feel free to get in touch with me – chloephillips(at)gmail.com

Have a read through Chloe’s interview where she talks about her project ‘The Importance of being Described… Earnestly?’ and her campaign to raise awareness of Audio Description.

Tweet me! @CeejClarke

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