Listening is crucial in the theater -- but discovering what it means to truly, beautifully and objectively describe a theater piece is an amazing skill that allows sighted people to help those who are visually imparied to enjoy dramatic performance.
On Sunday, November 17, 2019 Temple Students worked with expert audio describer Nicole Sardella to learn the art of audio description. The training session was collaboration between Temple and students who attend Overbrook School for the Blind, as well as their staff.
“To our knowledge, this kind of program between a special needs school and a University Theater department has never been done before,” says organizer and Assistant Director of Marketing for Temple’s School of Theater, Film & Media Arts, Jason Lindner. “It’s was exciting opportunity to have students of different abilities interact and learn from each other toward a larger inclusion initiative in the arts.”
On November 17th participants learned about audio description in the morning and then attended the Temple Theater’s production of PETER & THE STARCATCHER in the afternoon with Sardella providing the description via a special device that connected to headphones. This allowed students who are visually impaired from Overbrook to appreciate the show, while providing an example for Temple students who were learning how best to approach this accessibility accommodation.
With this kind of training in place, in the future, Temple students could make audio description available for all of Temple Theaters performances. Then they could subsequently use the talents they develop in this work to get professional audio description jobs after graduation.
While she has worked for Broadway in Philly, The Arden, The Walnut and many other theater companies in Philly, Sardella describes more than just theater for audiences with visual impairment. There is need for this accommodation in many cultural programs including for dance, museum exhibitions and events like Philly’s annual flower show.
This training program was funded by Temple Institutional Giving and their OwlCrowd program which relies on donors to make it possible. The work goes forward in cooperation with Art-Reach, and with thought leadership from the Institute for Disabilities at Temple which helped with outreach. The Overbrook School for the Blind portion of the program was facilitated by Temple Alumna Victoria Romano.
Art is to be cherished by everyone – The hope is that this kind of program will allow expanding audiences to experience the beauty of the professional level productions that Temple’s Theater program produces and perpetuate inclusion initiatives so that people who are blind or visually impaired have greater access to the cultural sphere in general. #Theaterforall