Blurred figures on a white background

Blindness at Donmar Warehouse

We’re excited to announce that VocalEyes will be providing audio description for the sound installation Blindness, running from Monday 3 to Saturday 22 August 2020 at Donmar Warehouse.

Blindness is based on the dystopian novel (published 1995) by Portuguese Nobel prize-winning author José Saramago (1922-2010), adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Walter Meierjohann. The hour-long ticketed installation will run four times a day, with seating arranged 2 metres apart in accordance with social distancing guidelines in a transformed auditorium.

As the lights change at a major crossroads in a city in the heart of Europe a car grinds to a halt. Its driver can drive no more. Suddenly, without warning or cause, he has gone blind. Within hours it is clear that this is a blindness like no other. This blindness is infectious. Within days an epidemic of blindness has spread through the city. The government tries to quarantine the contagion by herding the newly blind people into an empty asylum. But their attempts are futile. The city is in panic.

Acclaimed stage and screen actor Juliet Stevenson voices the Storyteller/Doctor’s wife. Visitors will listen on headphones to this gripping story of an unimaginable global pandemic and its profoundly hopeful conclusion featuring an immersive sound design using binaural technology by Ben and Max Ringham. The Donmar Warehouse is reimagined by designer Lizzie Clachan, with atmospheric lighting designed by Jessica Hung Han Yun.

Professor Hannah Thompson of Royal Holloway University of London, consultant to Donmar Warehouse on the production, and a regular collaborator with VocalEyes, writes:

“The Donmar Warehouse has a strong track record in supporting visually impaired audiences to enjoy their productions. I am pleased that I have been invited to support the creative team to ensure the Blindness sound installation has accessibility built into the experience for all visitors. José Saramago’s novel is a complex portrayal of blindness, and the Donmar is exploring how blindness can lead to different ways of being in the world and an appreciation that sight isn’t as necessary for understanding as we may think. In fact this installation will show that blindness can lead to rich and immersive aesthetic experiences.”

Audio-described content created by VocalEyes will be available at every installation from Friday 7 August, and there will be
a captioned installation at 2pm on Saturday 15 August. An audio-described or captioned digital version of the installation will also be available for purchase for those not able to attend in person.

Tickets go on sale from 12pm Friday 17 July for public booking. Donmar members can book from 12pm Wednesday 15 July. Up to 2 tickets can be purchased per transaction. When you arrive at the venue you will be seated by Front of House staff in accordance with social distancing. If you are purchasing two tickets you should ensure you are attending only with someone in your household or social bubble as you will be seated together. If you are attending on your own you will be seated in a single seat.

To accompany the installation the Donmar podcast ‘Reclaiming Blindness’ will be available to download from 7 August. Simon Stephens will interview Prof Hannah Thompson to unpack the representations of blindness in both the novel and this adaptation. They will take the long view across centuries of literature while discussing the exciting possibilities for creatively centring the non-visual in theatre today.

More information and booking via Donmar Warehouse website