Welcome to the 28th edition of The Interval, our weekly listing of accessible arts and culture. This week we’ve got a mix of drag, opera, Afrofuturism, theatre, astronomy, photography and the latest in the museum sector. As ever, all is #Audio or #AudioDescribed.
Bloomsbury Festival, Unsightly Drag and Friends, 17 October, 8:30 pm – 10:00 pm, Zoom
A drag cabaret with a difference! Come experience blind and visually impaired people and their friends from across the disability and LGBTQQIA+ spectrum dive nose first into gender bending fabulousness. Kings, Queens, and drag things that defy definition – all in one raucous and accessible performance. This show is one small step for quips (queer crips) and one giant leap for queer kind. This performance will be relaxed, with integrated audio description and BSL interpretation. Ages 14+. Book now for Unsightly Drag and Friends
Opera Holland Park, Un ballo in Maschera
Opera Holland Park’s acclaimed 2019 production of Un ballo in Maschera is now available for rental via Vimeo on Demand for £6.99 (24 hour access). All income will be shared with freelance creatives, cast and crew, including chorus, stage management, and the company’s resident orchestra, City of London Sinfonia.
Designed by takis, with sets and costumes that moved the action to the glamour and shadows of the 1940s, Un ballo in maschera was directed by Rodula Gaitanou and conducted by Matthew Kofi Waldren. French soprano Anne Sophie Duprels (Amelia), Italian tenor Matteo Lippi (Gustavo) and British baritone George von Bergen (Anckarström) led the cast, with OPH’s resident orchestra City of London Sinfonia in the pit.
The film was originally commissioned as part of Opera Holland Park’s award-winning Inspire project to address social isolation and reach an audience resident in hospitals and care homes. Online access to Un ballo in maschera will remain free of charge to viewers in these settings.
While the film is not audio described, you can download an audio introduction on the VocalEyes website.
Here is the Imagination of the Black Radical, 2020, audio-described, BFI Player, duration: 10 minutes
Afrofuturism and carnival as resistance at the Junkanoo festival in the Bahamas. A documentary by Aesthetica Art Prize winner Rhea Storr. Select ‘en (descriptive)’ for the audio-described version.
Originally celebrated by enslaved people who were only given Christmas Day and Boxing Day off, Junkanoo can be viewed as a form of resistance. We follow the 1500-strong group ‘Shell Saxon Superstars’ as they prepare their costume production before coming together in spectacular fashion to enact themes asserting national pride or depicting other countries. We visit the shacks where the costumes are made, to observe the craftmanship and dedication required to win the parade and obtain ‘bragging rights’.
The multi-layered soundtrack is comprised mostly of samples of analogue sounds (chiefly static and radio) and space agency sounds – which usually describe comets or space travel equipment like the Mars Rover – juxtaposed with interviews with the Saxons.
Little Cog, Funny Peculiar, audio-described, YouTube, duration: 53 minutes
Zsa Zsa, Raquelle, Blanche and Cuba are in quarantine – four disabled women locked down, locked in, shut up and shouted down. While the rest of the nation is in meltdown, it takes a lot to phase this quartet. The new terrain is worrying and frustrating but these women are prepared – perhaps they have waited for a moment like this their whole lives. In a sequence of four original, cross-cutting, witty and wise monologues, broadcasting from their own homes during quarantine, these women are myth-busters giving their all to expose the lie of vulnerability.
The latest lockdown production from Little Cog as part of their Staging Our Futures programme. Funny Peculiar stars Liz Carr of BBC’s Silent Witness fame, Mandy Colleran, a comedian and activist, and Bea Webster who is currently an associate of both the Royal Shakespeare Company and The Playwright’s Studio of Scotland.
BBC4, The Sky at Night, Beyond the Visible, iPlayer, audio-described, duration: 29 minutes
The focus for this edition of The Sky at Night was on astronomical research that is beyond the scope of human vision. We visit the UK’s foremost radio observatory, Jodrell Bank, and meet some remarkable, vision-impaired astronomers who are pioneering new techniques to carry out their research using their senses of hearing and touch.
The Photographers’ Gallery
Join this online edition of Slow Looking featuring three works by exhibiting photographer Sunil Gupta. The event will include live audio descriptions and discussion.
Join this online edition of Slow Looking featuring three photographs by exhibiting photographer Evgenia Arbugaeva. The event will include live audio descriptions and discussion.
Coming soon: MESA Festival, ScreenShare, 3 audio-described films, from 24 October, 7pm
The MESA Festival is created, curated and produced by The Fi.ELD, a unique programme from East London Dance to develop the future innovators of dance, equipping them with skills and resources to make their ideas happen. New short films by Ana Delgado, Maria Evans and Mohika Shankar, made with mentoring support from James Cousins, Botis Seva and Katrina McPherson respectively, will be shown as part of the Festival on 24 October at 7pm. The films and audio description (by Sightlines AD) will then be available to watch online for the following seven days.
Do you work in museums, or would like to?
In which case, we’ve got two items that might be of interest.
Curating for Change
The Accentuate programme is planning a work placement programme called Curating for Change, to enable D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse people to fulfil their potential in museums by developing their curatorial skills. In 2021 and 2022 they will be offering a series of paid Fellowships for 18 months over 20 museums.
To help their planning, they want to hear from people with lived experience of disability about any challenges or barriers they have experienced in wanting to progress a career in museums. They are holding two Zoom workshops, on Tuesday 3 or Wednesday 4 November, at 1.30 – 3.30pm. More information and booking details.
If you can’t take part in the Zoom events, and as they only have a limited number of places, please take this short online survey (Surveymonkey, 10 minutes).
If you define yourself as D/deaf, disabled or neurodiverse and already work in a museum but find it difficult to move roles or progress your career, or have always wanted to work as a curator or in the exhibitions team but found barriers along the way. Then Curating for Change is still interested in talking to you.
Museums Association Conference, Monday 2 to Friday 6 November
The MA’s annual conference is the largest in the museum sector. This year’s conference, taking place on Zoom, is titled World Turned Upside Down: Exploring the Future of Museums and every session will be audio described by VocalEyes describers (and subtitled by our friends at Stagetext). The conference is free to all Museums Association members. Find more information about the event and membership.
National Trust survey
The National Trust are reviewing their Access Guide (a printed book with access information about properties). Please take this short survey (Google Forms) to help them decide on the future of the resource. The survey only has 5 questions and won’t take a few minutes to complete. The deadline is 26 October.
Image: From the series Weatherman, 2013, by Evgenia Arbugaeva (b.1985) A middle-aged bearded man sits at a desk, writing, surrounded by piles of books. A large desk lamp casts the only light in the gloom.