The Interval, #15, accessible culture online

Welcome to The Interval (#15), VocalEyes’ weekly selection of accessible cultural experiences available online. This week featuring theatre, spoken word, dance, movement, and interviews, compiled with submissions from some of our regular contributors. We kick off featuring a production written by one of our own describers.

Theatre / spoken word

GREY, by Koko Brown, online from Thursday 2 July, 7pm; running time 1 hour 15 minutes; recommended age 12+; free.

She is a strong, independent, black woman. She has a roof over her head. She has food in her fridge. She lives a good life. She’s also a little bit sad, a lot of the time. She doesn’t understand why. Following her 5-star solo show, WHITE, Koko Brown brings you the second instalment of the Colour Trilogy, GREY. A candid show exploring depression and black women’s mental health.

Blending spoken word and vocal looping, GREY is fully British Sign Language integrated and contains sensitive content. Koko, a trained VocalEyes audio describer, will be providing introductory audio-descriptive notes before the stream. Part of House to House, from Brixton House (formerly Ovalhouse).

Ugly Bucket presents ABC (Anything But Covid), a new short film that questions how far we’ll go to oblige the pressures of staying productive in lockdown. Duration: 8 minutes 53 seconds. Suitability: 16yrs+; Tickets available as ‘Pay What You Can’, with a suggested price of £5, booking now.

Ugly Bucket are a multi award-winning company based in Liverpool who combine clowning with techno music, movement and verbatim.

Animation Slam, an animated spoken word slam, pairing the ferocity and comedy of some of the sharpest minds and hearts in the UK spoken word scene with hand drawn animations by theatre maker and video designer Edalia Day. With integrated captions and audio description. Duration: 25 minutes, 10 seconds; Tickets available as ‘Pay What You Can’ with a suggested price of £10, on general sale from Thursday 2 July 12pm

Both ABC and Animation Slam are part of Homemakers, a series of new commissions where Manchester’s HOME invites their favourite artists to create work at home, for an audience who are also at home.

[email protected] Home: Shakespeare’s Richard II (free)

[email protected] Home is an ongoing project of classic drama in ‘radio’ format. Adapted and directed by Sean Hagerty, the production of Richard II will be presented in three parts, with episode one available from Wednesday, 1 July. Jamie Ballard, who played the title character in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in London, stars as Richard II.

Richard II tells the timely story of the downfall and overthrow of a despotic and mercurial King (reigned 1377-99), by the opposing forces of the banished Henry Bolingbroke who ascends the throne to become Henry IV.

Nigel Slater’s ‘Toast’, Sunday 5 July to Friday 31 July; Running time: 2 hours; £10 – £16

Following its 2019 West End run and national tour, Nigel Slater’s ‘Toast’ returns to the Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield as an online play for you to enjoy from the comfort of your own home. ‘Toast’ vividly recreates Nigel Slater’s childhood through the tastes and smells he shares with his mother, culminating in the young Nigel’s escape to London. From making the perfect sherry trifle, through the playground politics of sweets, the rigid rules of restaurant dining, and a domestic war over cakes, this is a moving and evocative tale of love, loss and…toast.

Toast is part radio play, part animated film. We’ve been reassured by Nigel that you miss nothing with the audio experience alone.

The Present, by Stef Smith, directed by Katherine Nesbitt, and performed by Moyo Akandé; audio-described; running time 8 minutes 35 seconds; (free)

During her solitude, a young woman offers a tender poetic lament to an absent loved one and takes comfort in imagining a time when they can be together again.

Part of Scenes for Survival, a new season of 40 + digital artworks created in response to the current COVID-19 outbreak. Produced by National Theatre of Scotland, in association with the Traverse Theatre, BBC Scotland, Screen Scotland, BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine project, with support from Hopscotch Films.

National Theatre at Home: Les Blancs, by Lorraine Hansberry, adapted by Robert Nemiroff, 7pm 2 July until 9 July; free. Not audio-described, but there is an audio introduction by Roz Chalmers and Tony McBride is available on the NT at Home website.

Coming soon…

The BBC has released new versions of Alan Bennett’s much-loved Talking Heads monologues, with performers including Sarah Lancashire, Martin Freeman, Kristin Scott-Thomas, Jodie Comer and Maxine Peake. 12 Episodes are now on BBC iPlayer with audio-described versions.

But don’t watch them yet! Wait a few days more, as a team of VocalEyes describers have been hard at work (at home) to create audio-described introductions to each character. These will be made available on the VocalEyes website soon, with links to each AD version on iPlayer. Bringing a bit of theatre AD to your TV experience!

Dance and movement

Lincoln Center at the Movies: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Chroma, Grace, Takademe, Revelations; audio-described version, running time 1 hour, 54 minutes (free).

Alvin Ailey’s signature masterpiece, ‘Revelations,’ pays homage to and reflects African-American cultural heritage, which Ailey considered one of America’s richest treasures – “sometimes sorrowful, sometimes jubilant, but always hopeful.”

Sound Score for a Movement Meditation with Molly Danter

Audio Movement Class with Aya Kobayashi

Both on Barrowland Ballet’s Mixcloud. Barrowland Ballet are one of Scotland’s most exciting and successful contemporary dance companies led by choreographer Natasha Gilmore.


The Power of Poetry, with William Sieghart, Jeanette Winterson and Helena Bonham Carter, an evening hosted by Sarah Montague with poetry reading. 2018, not audio described, but it’s a conversational event with talking heads.

UnErase Poetry YouTube channel is a community based in Mumbai for promoting and producing Spoken Word Poetry in Hindi and English. Not audio described, but mostly talking heads.


The Poet Laureate Has Gone To His Shed (BBC iPlayer): Simon Armitage talks to celebrity visitors – musicians, journalists, writers, academics, historians – about all kinds of things (in his shed).

In his Life in Lockdown Podcasts with Visually Impaired People, our former Deputy director Toby Davey has been catching up with some of the visually impaired people he has interviewed in the past for BBC Radio 4’s In Touch programme to find out what life in lockdown is like for them and how they have been coping in these strange times that we are all living in.

This week we’re featuring his interview with Joanne Roughton-Arnold, an opera singer, music teacher and  the co-founder of FormidAbility, Britain’s first fully accessible opera company. And here’s Toby’s original interview with Joanne for BBC in Touch.