‘Living with the Volcano’: Arts accessibility made manifest at Edinburgh Multi-Artform Venue
Ann Thallon, who has a severe hearing loss, worked intensively with musician/theatre maker Greg Sinclair and visual artist Kate Temple to develop and share ‘Volcano’.
The project was funded and supported through the Edinburgh Multi Artform venue Summerhall and Creative Scotland.
The aim was to incorporate deaf accessibility into theatre making it as visual as possible, while live notetaking captured speech.
A hearing audience member tweeted: “It was great to see this experimental piece, sharing the experience of hearing loss. Left reflecting on our relationship with sound and the barriers around hearing impairment.”
Ann added: “The audience really seemed to ‘get’ the message woven through our exploration of sound / communication / hearing loss and barriers to making sense of sound, using the metaphor of Living with the Volcano. The ‘Cracker Jokes’ running item, where we very audibly obscured the punchline of the joke each time, was just one aspect which took the audience’s fancy and got positive feedback during the facilitated discussion after the performance!
“Greg, Kate and I were committed, right from the start of the project, to incorporating deaf accessibility to whatever we developed: the attentive audience agreed we were seamlessly successful in that. Whilst much of the performance was highly visual, with live and recorded soundscapes, all speech was accessible through live notetaking and the after show discussion used both notetaking and a portable loop system. Plus – the audience could find their way through the corridors of the venue, to our performance space, without having to have any conversation with venue staff – because of the eye catching signage pointing the way!
“For me, this was a fabulous example of how people with hearing loss can be fully involved, on an equal footing with hearing folks, in both the performance and the audience side of theatre. We can experience and gain from the Arts, right alongside each other. The piece was also a vehicle to raise the venue’s awareness of engaging with deaf audiences.
“It’s been a great privilege to work alongside such creative professionals and see their determination to communicate successfully with me throughout the process. You can imagine the boost this experience has been to my self confidence!
“I’d love to think that there could be further development of our Volcano piece – and the chance to take it, and its messages, to other venues and wider audiences in the future.”