The National Theatre has collaborated with 12-year-old Eleanor Stollery to become the first young, visually impaired person to audio describe a performance at a UK theatre.
Eleanor undertook the role in a recent schools’ performance of The Witches, a co-production with Roald Dahl Story Company, experienced by 850 school children, 76 of whom were visually impaired, from 29 primary and secondary schools.
Eleanor delivered audio description during the performance using a braille script and cued by professional audio-describer and mentor Roz Chalmers MBE.
The National Theatre’s Sound Department developed an innovative system that enabled Eleanor to operate the Audio Description console and microphone using a foot pedal so she could read her script with both hands.
This collaboration not only showcased Eleanor's skill and talent but also created a platform for visually impaired children to experience audio description from a young person like themselves.
“I know how important Audio Description is and I was so glad I could help the visually impaired school children experience and enjoy the show together with their classmates,” said Eleanor, pictured above with Roz Chalmers.
“At first it was challenging finding the best way to adapt everything, but to be able to work with Roz and the National Theatre on this project was a dream come true. It was amazing being given the opportunity to do something that has never been done before and that the team felt that they could put their trust in me to deliver. With the right help anything is possible.”
The performance of The Witches marked a milestone for the National Theatre's dedication to providing accessible experiences for all, and was the largest attended audio described performance to date.
“We believe the National Theatre is the first in the UK to work with a young visually impaired audio describer, and our collaboration with Eleanor received a positive response from our audience,” said David Bellwood, Head of Access at the National Theatre.
“As a result, our sound team are developing systems and provisions to make the process more accessible to work with visually impaired audio describers in the future, including Eleanor.
“The National Theatre believes that theatre is for everyone, and we are committed to exploring and developing innovative ways of providing access provisions to expand our audiences.”
To find out more go to https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/