Welcome to the 29th edition of The Interval, our weekly listing of accessible arts and culture. This week we’ve got an audio play for children, online theatre and film from England, Wales and Scotland, music from Northern Ireland, and museums and galleries in London and San Francisco. As ever, all is #Audio or #AudioDescribed.
However, we’re starting off with the good news that the National Theatre has re-opened after 7 long months, with a new play by Clint Dyer and Roy Williams, Death of England Delroy. The audio-described performance (with COVID safe touch tour) is on Saturday 14 November at 2pm (tour at 12pm). Access rate tickets £20. Duration: 90 minutes, no interval.
London, 2020. Delroy is arrested on his way to the hospital.
Filled with anger and grief, he recalls the moments and relationships that gave him hope before his life was irrevocably changed. Written in response to their play Death of England, Michael Balogun plays Delroy in this new standalone work by Clint Dyer and Roy Williams, which explores a Black working class man searching for truth and confronting his relationship with Great Britain.
Polka Theatre, Rock Pool (six-part audio drama for 4-7 year olds, on Spotify and SoundCloud from Friday 23 October to 1 December)
A big storm leaves two very different creatures stranded in a lonely, little rock pool. Prawn and Crab must learn to get on swimmingly if they’re to survive hunger, boredom, deadly seagull attacks, and each other. All this while unexpectedly forming the world’s most banging underwater rock band!
Dealing with themes of isolation, boredom, upheaval and the climate crisis, Rock Pool could not be more relevant to children’s experiences in these strange times. A sort of crustacean Waiting for Godot for children.
Nottingham Playhouse, Bubble by James Graham, Saturday 24 October, 2.30pm (online, audio-described, £22.50, duration: 70 minutes)
Two people. One perfect date. And then, the world collapses…
Ashley and Morgan both think they’ve found ‘The One’ after years of break-ups, ghosting, and swiping left. Now butterflies, a million things in common, and embarrassing fantasies about the future. Then, a national lockdown is announced and they’re faced with an impossible and urgent decision – quarantine apart? Or maybe, just maybe, take the crazy decision to isolate together? Follow two alternative versions of the couple’s future as they navigate a strange new reality together, and apart. A punchy, playful and romantic new play about the sacrifices we make not to be alone.
The online live-streamed version of the show on Saturday 24 October 2.30pm will be audio-described. Choose ‘Book digital tickets’ when booking and you will be emailed instructions before the performance. Part of Nottingham Playhouse Unlocked.
Theatrau Sir Gâr, This Incredible Life by Alan Harris (YouTube, audio described, duration 56 minutes, available to watch on-demand until Wednesday 28 October).
BAFTA Award-winning writer Alan Harris’ comedy, directed by Julia Thomas, starring Sharon Morgan and Christopher Elson, with appearances from Richard Elfyn, Scott Gutteridge, Lynn Hunter, Andrew Lennon, Simon Nehan, Elin Phillips and Liane Walters.
Mab has spent her life telling stories. Incredible stories. She was a jet-setting journalist, putting people’s lives into print. As a young boy, her nephew Robert, hung on her every word. He doesn’t listen anymore.
In a time when fake news surrounds us, and the line between fact and fiction becomes blurred, does truth really matter? In a digital world where family connections are more tentative than ever, how do we reconnect with our loved ones and create new shared experiences?
Before watching, we recommend that you listen to the audio introduction on SoundCloud.
Based on Canoe Theatre and Theatrau Sir Gâr’s 2018 touring production.
National Theatre of Scotland, Future Perfect (Tense), by Nicola McCartney (YouTube, audio described, duration: 14 minutes)
Life is full of tricky choices- whether to buy that new sofa, what to do for Hogmanay, how to keep your partner happy- and sometimes everyone wishes they could phone up their future self to check that they’re making the right ones. But after setting up the call one woman finds that it’s less reassuring than she’d hoped. Neshla Caplan stars in a witty, metaphysical new short from writer Nicola McCartney, directed by Eve Nicol.
Produced by National Theatre of Scotland, in association with BBC Scotland, Screen Scotland, BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine project and Cumbernauld Theatre, with support from Hopscotch Films.
Royal Exchange Theatre, A Funny Thing Happened in Isolation, by Andy Barry (YouTube, audio described, duration: 41 minutes)
Narrated by Julie Hesmondhalgh and released via Royal Exchange Theatre’s YouTube Channel on Thursday 1 October to coincide with Older People’s Day, this funny, gentle, slightly ridiculous love-letter to the theatre has been written and directed by Andy Barry and created with the Elders Company.
As the country went into lockdown in March 2020, cameras began following a small theatre troupe in Greater Manchester to see how they would adapt to the ‘new normal’. Group member Joan lives with her brother Maurice and together they have easily adapted to life on Zoom. Emerging theatre director Natalie, ambitiously sets out to rehearse her age-inclusive production of Romeo and Juliet while partners Deidre and Mike are determined to bring the magic of a ‘night out at the theatre’ into their own home. But, as time marches on, can theatre member Fiona hold it all together and will newcomer Jim finally learn what ‘the theatre’ is?
MESA Festival, ScreenShare, 3 audio-described films (from Saturday 24 October, 7:00pm)
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 be available to watch online for the following seven days.
Belfast International Arts Festival, Madrigals at the Museum, Part 1 (YouTube, audio described, duration: 38 minutes)
Sestina Music perform two concerts showcasing the extraordinary madrigals of Claudio Monteverdi. Monteverdi’s Nine Books of Madrigals is one of the world’s most significant and diverse collections of vocal music, ranging from intimate 5-part a capella pieces in Books 1-5 to the virtuoso concerti for varied combinations in Book 7. The two concerts feature Books 1 and 2 respectively. In Book 1, we hear the youthful musical language of Monteverdi, still greatly influenced by his teacher, Ingegneri, and just beginning to find his own voice and explore the possibilities of the genre. Recorded in the spectacular setting of the Ulster Museum, these performances will present this glorious music within a wider artistic context, showcasing the stunning spaces and diverse collections of the museum.
Museums and galleries
Predicting the Past: the Zohar Studios, the Lost Years at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco (audio-described tour, Zoom, Tuesday 27 October, 11:30 am Pacific Time, 18:30 UK time)
Educator and Tour Coordinator Ron Glait will lead a descriptive tour of the shuttered exhibition Predicting the Past: the Zohar Studios, the Lost Years. The tour examines the storytelling, narrative, and malleability of photography through an immersive virtual gallery experience. It will explore the nineteenth century through the advent of photography and highlight its humor, magic, and multiplicity of meanings that will explore how photography has influenced our understanding of history and reality.
To register complete this short form to pre-register (https://forms.gle/JSQisRwcKT2S7rwCA). You will receive an email confirmation with the Zoom link for the tour. If you have questions, please contact Ron Glait at [email protected].
Coming soon: Sculpture at the Legion of Honor Museum, San Francisco (audio-described tour, Zoom, Thursday, 12 November, 1:30 Pacific Time, 21:30 UK time)
Jim Kohn leads a descriptive tour of some notable and very interesting pieces of ceramics and sculpture from the permanent collection at the Legion of Honor Museum. You’ll encounter ceramics from Ancient Greece and Rome, then move on to famous marble sculptures from the Renaissance and 18th century, and conclude with several bronze sculptures by Auguste Rodin, whose work is at the heart of the Legion collection, including The Thinker, The Kiss and The Burghers of Calais.
For those unfamiliar with the museum, The Legion of Honor is a beautiful Beaux-Arts building located in San Francisco’s Lincoln Park, built to commemorate Californian soldiers who died in World War I. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Golden Gate Bridge and all of San Francisco, the Legion’s collections include Rodin’s Thinker, which sits in the museum’s Court of Honor, European decorative arts and paintings, ancient art and one of the largest collections of prints and drawings in the United States.
We’ll share the link nearer the date of the event.
Photographers Gallery, London, Slow Looking: Evgenia Arbugaeva (audio-described tour, Zoom, Saturday 31 October, 3:00 pm)
Hyperborea – Stories from the Russian Arctic (at the Photographers’ Gallery until 24 January 2021) marks the first major UK exhibition of the award-winning Russian photographer, Evgenia Arbugaeva. Featuring brand new work, this exhibition is the culmination of a long-term project (begun in 2013) focused on the remote land and people of the Russian Arctic. The Slow Looking event, with live audio descriptions by Eleanor Margolies will feature three photographs by exhibiting artist Evgenia Arbugaeva. Depending on the discussion, this session should last 50 to 70 minutes.
National Gallery, Art through Words: Velázquez’s Christ in the House of Martha and Mary (audio-described tour, Zoom, 29 October, 10.30 – 11.30am)
Join Belle Smith and Caroline Smith to hear about Spanish artist Velázquez’s painting of 1618, ‘Christ in the House of Martha and Mary’.
Bank of England Museum, two short audio-described videos
First in a series, these two videos explore Gold bars (06:47) and Britannia (05:48) and their connection to the Bank of England.
Rachel Hutchinson, Audio description in an inclusive museum (artice on the VocalEyes website)
Dr Rachel Hutchinson is a freelance researcher who specialises in the evaluation of the impact of cultural experiences on audiences. Her particular focus area is access to the arts and heritage sector for people who are blind or partially sighted. Rachel recently completed her PhD at the University of Westminster, working with supervisors Dr Alison Eardley and Dr Peter Ride, in collaboration with VocalEyes and the Museum of London. Rachel’s work explored how Audio Description could enhance inclusive museum experiences. She has written an article for the VocalEyes website about her research findings, which are particularly relevant at the moment, as museums and galleries move audio-described events online and discover that they are just as popular with sighted people as they are with blind and visually impaired audiences.
Image: Pearl Mackie and Jessica Raine in rehearsal for Bubble, Royal Exchange Theatre. Photo credit: Pamela Raith.