We all need to show the best of us

In 2020, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis outbreak, the European Theatre Forum was hosted, an event which brought together members of the broader theatre and performing arts sector and EU policymakers. The opening statement reads:

Theatre and the performing arts are powerful, majestic forms of artistic expression. They captivate minds, stimulate reflection and foster aesthetic growth. They possess a special power of revealing and generating the beauty – in all senses – of the world we live in. Theatre and the performing arts help individuals transcend the ordinary and nourish a sense of individual freedom.

We couldn’t agree more with these words, as with the Dresden declaration as a whole (you can read the full text here).

Theatre, as the other creative and cultural sectors working with a live audience, indeed has been hit hard by the pandemic, consequently the industry needs support to recover.

However, we also think the sector had some problems before the pandemic, which were only partially addressed.

We strongly believe that people needs to express themselves regardless of their social or geographic background, age, race, gender, religion, physical ability.

We also believe that self-expression and representation have been treated, and still are, as privileges more than as the rights they are.

We want to change that.

Two women reharsing

We all need entertainment

Old man smiling between theatre curtains

Do you enjoy going to the theatre? If you’re on this website, we bet you do. Why shouldn’t you? Theatre is art, theatre is life, theatre represents and stages the cultural heritage of our Communities.

However, we shouldn’t forget that theatre is also entertaining. That’s right: entertaining. Different types of spectators go to see a performance with different expectations: a fan of a particular actor or actress may go to cheer him/her; an admirer of a particular director or playwright may go to enjoy that specific way of storytelling; a theatre critic may go to take notes about everything he/she thinks it’s wrong, and then complain about it on a newspaper or a website. However, we don’t think any of these theatre aficionados is coming out wishing to be bored for a couple of hours.

Imagine going to the theatre and finding out that the chair you’ve been assigned is not facing the stage, but the exit: would you be able to enjoy the performance? We suppose you wouldn’t.

That’s what happens to spectators when theatres don’t keep into account their needs.

We all need audio-descriptions

If you’re not blind or don’t have visual impairements, chances are that you never needed audio-descriptions to enjoy a show.

However, while sitting in your chair waiting for curtains to open, you may have noticed around you some people with headphones, sometimes even playing with sort of a smartphone. Maybe they even brought their dog with them. How rude!

Well, let’s not be too judgmental here. This is exactly what an audio-description service is: on the other side of those tools there’s an operator (sometimes a registered commentary) helping the person imagine what he/she is not able to see. How does the actress look like? What is she wearing? What’s on stage? Is she grabbing a prop?

Without those headphones, that sort of smartphone and, most of all, without the operator audio-describing the performance, your fellow spectator would enjoy way less of the show. That’s discrimination.

We strongly believe that all theatres should be able to provide audio-descriptions. The reality is that we’re not there yet.

Blind woman with guide dog

We all need Sign Language translation

D/deaf actor filming

Who’s that guy near the stage making signs with his hands? What is doing that for? This is distracting. I’m here to watch actors do stuff, not some dude standing still and waiwing his hands.

Be honest, you may have thought this sometime. If not, you probably never came across a Sign Language Translator, a professional translating actors’ lines in real-time for D/deaf and hard of hearing spectators. However, please be aware that what you may find distracting, is crucial for other people in the audience to keep up with the plot of the performance.

The alternative option is surtitling, that is showing captions in real-time of the lines an actor is delivering.

Your fellow D/deaf or hard of hearing spectator really needs this: without one of these services, he/she would only be able to enjoy the scenography and the body language of the actors of stage… do you think that’s worth the ticket price?

We believe that language sign translation, captioning and surtitling should be part of every theatre performance. Again: we’re not there yet.

We. All. Need. Theatre.

The bottom line is: we all need theatre.

Quite simple, right?

While we may have different points of view, different likes and dislikes, different approaches, different needs for enjoying a performance… we must agree that loving theatre is what characterizes us.

Not our background, nor our physical or mental conditions.

So let’s take it from here: let’s also agree that every theatre lover should be able to attend a show and enjoy it.

Let’s put those barriers down. Let’s transform privileges into rights.

That’s what we W.A.N.T.

Actor shrugging in dressing room.

Dear visitor, you may think our homepage is a bit outdated: there’s very little movement, few internal links, no videos or pop-ups showing up. This is on purpose. While developing this website we followed the Guidelines for accessible web content delivered by the ADLabPro Project, co-financed by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union.

If you’re interested in how to facilitate all your potential users to enjoy your website’s content, including visitors with hearing or visual impairements, you can dowload the guidelines here, as we did. It’s free, it’s simple, it’s interesting, it benefits everyone.