Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Night of Privilege

Over the past week, I have not only stuck my eyeballs to the TV set to watch people ski, skate, fall, shoot pucks (only to reclaim those very eyeballs when it's time to have a wee cry), but I've worked on 3 additional freelance projects (along with that fabulous job I am honoured to have). Each of these extra-curricular projects has been an amazing experience and I'll start by sharing with you what I did tonight.

If you are a lover of culture (Canadian culture in particular) you've probably heard of the theatre/film doyen, Robert Lepage. I first saw him in a life-altering production called Circulations which was presented at The Firehall Arts Centre in the late 80's. This was before he was famous and I can tell you that it was a show that left me sitting slack jawed and speechless in the theatre, my brain ignited with possibility. After that, I happened to be in the right city at the right time over the years, and was fortunate enough to see The Dragon's Trilogy, Tectonic Plates, Polygraph, Bluebeard's Castle, Far Side of the Moon, The Anderson Project, Ka and The Blue Dragon. Many of these shows are some of the most memorable experiences I've ever had in a theatre, because Lepage creates masterfully staged, multi-layered works of interdisciplinary art.

The Blue Dragon is currently playing in Vancouver at the new Fei and Miltong Wong Experimental Theatre downtown. And while it's not Lepage's strongest work to date, it's still impressive. (and hey - anyone with a track record like his should be allowed the odd weak link right? I mean, the man is a genius.)

Over the past 6 months or so, Kickstart Society for Disability Art and Culture, has trained a handful of individuals to work as audio describers. (and if you clicked on that link, please pardon the crazed look on my face. I was seriously mid sentence when the photo was snapped!) Essentially, what we do is describe the visual aspect of specific shows for visually impaired audience members. Those audience members wear a receiver and a headset over one ear, and the audio describer transmits via a microphone what's happening visually. This way, a person who's visually impaired can still experience the joy of live theatre with other living, breathing souls, but still walk away with a visual picture as well as the aural one. Try watching a play, or a film with your eyes closed. Sure you'll pick up a lot from the dialogue and soundscape, but imagine what you can't understand because the information is all visual. It's sort of like this post. I've not included a single visual here - I'm just relying on what you can hear on the screen. Well, that's where we come in. It's pretty neat. And adrenalin inducing. And scary. And fun. And satisfying. And the best part is getting to talk to the visually impaired members at the end of the show.

Tonight? Tonight, I got to describe The Blue Dragon. My colleague Rick wrote and delivered the pre-show notes which give detailed information about sets and costumes. And I described the show. What an honour. That's all I have to say. What an honour.

I am still wired.

Still wired.


Probably won't need to sleep for a week.

Hmmm. I guess I could go wake Mister Man up and get him to talk to me.

Or not.

I'll just go now.

Did I mention what an honour it was to audio describe The Blue Dragon?


  1. EEEEEE!!!! My little feet are doing a dance of joy for you, that is fantastic!!


  2. My little feet were dancing too!!! EEEEEE indeed!!!!